Winter 2020 Season Review and General Round Up

I feel that every anime season I say “this was a pretty bad season” or, at best, “this was a mediocre season” but this season seems to have been particularly disappointing.

For the first time since I started watching seasonal anime (circa 2013?) there isn’t a single show that I picked up from the season and then enjoyed watching all the way through. The handful of shows I’m still watching are either sequels (and even then I’ve dropped some sequels) or are shows I’m watching as a joke (because they are bad). Like normally I don’t start writing these reviews until three weeks after the season has finished. But I’m starting this one nearly two weeks before the next season starts. Madness. In particular I’m shocked at how many shows I got more than halfway through and then just stopped watching.

Winter 2020

Things I’m still watching and/or finished:

Chihayafura S3

So fucking good. I was so scared about coming back into this season that I banked nearly an entire cour of episodes before Chihayafuru 3taking the plunge and watching it in one mini-marathon when I had some time off for work because I was sick. And it was FANTASTIC, like I was so engrossed I didn’t take any notes of talking points until like 2/3 of the way through the season. I’m glad I did the rewatch of S1+S2 by coincidence in the months leading up to refresh me on the situation. It meant that when Arata (finally) confessed to Chihaya the emotional beat really hit and the reactions of all the other people (in particular the Karuta Club members) were really well played.

The middle two arcs of the show really shined as great content. First the qualifiers for the King/Queen matches where we got heaps of character growth- like Chihaya choosing to go on the School Trip instead while Mashima chose to compete. The background development/history of Dr Harada and how his career as a doctor fucked his initial chance of becoming Master in his youth and required him to revisit not only his game style by his life attitude. Which was then framed as a part of a ‘passionate youth’ vs ‘aged experience’ of Harada vs Arata. Plus we got nuanced relationships between Harada, Kitano (Haruda’s elderly rival and head of another Karuta Society) and the reader Makino and how actions in their past shaped the frosty relationships… which were then repaired by present day actions in the qualifier tournament. All while this is happening, we have the Queen Qualifier going on where Inokuma is in a tear-jerker struggle between her dream to keep playing karuta and being a mother for her very young children. (and is in a match of the returning retiree vs the upcoming star). SO MUCH character nuance and none of them are even the main characters. Then in the next arc the Harada story is further developed against the surprisingly depressing background of Master Suo and his struggles of the slow onset of a disability and Inokuma’s is developed against Shinobu’s struggles to make connections with other people (and dealing with her burgeoning friendship and accidental betrayal by Chihaya). While both games have streaks of passionate vs passionless game attitudes through them. Ugh so good.

There were also lots of smaller moments too- like when Taichi lied to Suo about Chihaya being his girlfriend (after Suo had decided Chiayaya could maybe be his future wife…) and also how Taichi bribed Suo into doing a post-match review which he never does. And the nuanced strategy in Harada vs Arata in the qualifier where Harada does an unheard of thing in forfeiting a match to manage his knee pain as an old man. Also the portrayal of dealing with knee pain was very realistic in my view.

But this is a Cynical Nerd blog so there were things that I wasn’t a fan of. I can’t really remember specifics in the first arc and across the season there was a much greater emphasis on relationships than karuta. Not that the relationship stuff was bad but the relative lack of actual karuta propelled storyline was disappointing. Especially in the last arc which was more about the various love triangles that has formed.

There was a big pay off with the love triangles with the second last ep having Taichi finally confess to Chihaya and then quit the club when she rejects him; throwing Chihaya into a loop as she can’t understand why he doesn’t want to hang out with her all the time immediately after the rejection. There were a couple things I didn’t like about how this played out. Firstly, half of the ep following this (the finale) was suddenly focused on Arata setting up his own club and learning the exact same lessons we’d seen Chihaya learn over the previous two seasons about the value of teams. Which meant that not only was it boringly redudant, it was so rushed it felt forced. And it was taking away valuable minutes in addressing the bombshells from the previous episode. Then there is a bit of joking around about how Chihaya is trying to figure out the uncertainty she feels following Taichi’s actions by going to the library… but is ultimately saved not by herself figuring things out but by Arata stepping in randomly. I really think it was a disservice to her character that she wasn’t able to draw on inner strength here and had to be saved by the guy she has the hots for. And the Chiyaya content is interspersed with some great stuff of the other club members stepping up to fill to void left by Taichi leaving and Chihaya being off figuring things out. However the Taichi stuff is not developed or addressed any further. I think they tried doing too much here and thus fucked it. For a dramatic finale, it should have ended on the previous episode with the confession and quit. For a satisfying ending it should have just been focused on Chihaya and the club dealing with the fall out. With Chiyaha coming to a conclusion herself in a more serious way and the club coping in a more humourous way (if they insist on having humour). Then in a post credit epilogue, have Chiyaya receive the message from Arata saying he’s put together his team and will see them at the team tournament next year to set up an arc for S4. Rather than not resolving some things, resolving other things poorly and wasting time on random character for Arata’s team we do not care about.

Also and as a random point, in the last few eps something happened with Chihaya’s VA and suddenly her default talking voice became what has been the emotionally-strained-and-crying-voice across the other 2 and 3/4 seasons. Was really jarring as she sounded like she was having a super emotional reaction to what was happening that didn’t fit with what was going on (pre-confession/quit of course). This was really noticeable because despite the like, 5+ year time gap between S2 and S3 and some recasting being done to replaces VAs who had passed away in that time period; overall I thought the voices were really spot on.

Nekopara

This show is absolute trash. It’s an adaption of a visual novel game where you are a chef or something and have cat maids work at your restaurant. Presumably you fuck them in the VN Nekoparabut here they just get up to wacky hi-jinks largely away from the chef (more often accompanied by the cat obsessed sister). It’s a pretty cutesy and inoffensive and empty show I largely started watching it coz it was cute girls doing cute things. Although the purple haired cat girl who keeps crowing on about getting ‘moist’ when things happen was cringey as fuck.

However as I kept watching I realised there is this weird, entirely accidental dark undertone to the concept.  Like these cat girls are clearly sentient animals yet there is some ‘bell’ system where they get trained up to follow commands and stay focused or whatever to be awarded their ‘bell’. And if they don’t have a bell their not allowed to go outside unaccompanied by their human master. And of course the bell goes on a collar. And there are regular re-tests which they can fail and lose the privilege of free movement.

So like, they’re slaves yeah? Also weird that like the chef guy is starting a new restaurant and staffs it entirely with this slave cat girls. I presume coz they don’t get paid minimum wage. Or any wage. And are basically used as promotional props to attract customers. While the younger sister is part of some cat management group that tracks where cats are and what they’re doing. Towards the end the arranges for two other cats to be put into another business to serve as live in wait staff.

It’s fucked. Like, do they know they’ve made a show about interspecies slavery or was that an accident?

Interspecies Reviewers

I almost the mistake of watching the first ep of this (not knowing what it was) at the office lunch desk. Fortunately I was quick the uptake something about this was a bit NSFW and Ishuzoku Reviewersswitched to another show. To be honest, this show is kind of shitty. The story of it’s production- someone had this idea, some else greenlit it, someone decided to put it on broadcast TV, someone decided to license it internationally and then someone (Funimation) decided to drop it around episode 3 when they actually realised what it was- is better than the show itself. Kind of like Marchen Madden (?) from a few years back.

So this show is a fantasy world where we follow the adventure of 3 blokes (human, elf, semi-fallen angel) plus 1 revolving other fantasy species as they go test the wares of various fantasy species brothels. That’s crazy that this got off the ground.

Of course one has to watch the uncensored version, just to see what TV broadcast anime vaginas look like. But it does deal with some of the questions that this sort of Hentai don’t touch one coz that’s not the point of hentai. Like there’s one eps where they go to a fairy brothel. And it is a extended scene of then getting their dicks measured to find out which fairy can physically fit their penises inside them. With a reverse shame thing of the bigger your dick, the less attractive the fairy’s are.  In another one they go a salamander place and physiclaly can’t do anything unless they have fire resistance or else they’ll get burned… so instead have a hot pot BBQ where the cook the stuff on the nude girl (…or in the nude girl). And there is some early commentary about how the ages of elves vs humans skews their views of attractiveness- with the 300 year old elf thinking the old human granny is still young and beautiful while the 500 year old,  elf prostitute (who is drawn conventionally attractive) is ugly and old. Or the part where the semi-fallen angel (a hermaphrodite) decides to fuck a very masculine hyena women because her vestigial penis made for some interesting combinations…

Some of this cleverness is very fucked though- like the episode where they go to the reptilian brothel and see various lizard and bird creatures lay eggs. Nightmare inducing what they animated in that episode.

Oh and there is one episode where they go to a golem brothel and can build their own sex worker. Leading them to built look a likes of a female friend of theirs to the expected negative reaction when she finds out. Which is maybe a commentary (accidentally) of where Sex Robots might end up in the real world.

Plus there was a weird subplot in one episode about elections happening that then petered out in to nowhere as that sort of serious content doesn’t belong here. Also the post-credit scenes of some weird sex doctor doing nothing important or the prosistutes doing internal rankings of things were boring. And the random quartet of other blokes who would comment on the brothel reviews were irritating and one note jokes.

But I guess in summary there was an amazing amount of story in this glorified hentai… and an amazing amount of hentai for something put onto TV…

Murenase Seton Gakuen

Also a bad those. First up- the repeated dog face licking is disgusting in terms of how often if happens and how much they animate.

Secondly, this show’s watchability rides entirely on the fact the Murenase! Seton Gakuenfemale lead is a look-a-like of Onodera from Nisekoi (but with long hair to make her definitely not a copy!). This is particularly true when the finale ep gives us a basically naked Onodera-clone in a skimpy BDSM costume to be the ring girl for a boxing match.

The main character Jin is a massive cunt but given how idiotic everyone around him is it seems almost justifiable. Like everyone is a one-note character who gets pretty stale quickly. Like the Wolf Girls is overly hyperactive and is stealthy trained by Jin like a dog to do what he wants. The sloth girl who moves at a snails pace (well, sloths pace) and constantly dies coz of overexertion. The koala who is a bit dumb, can only cook with eucalyptus leaves and fondly remembers eating her mum’s shit to get gut bacteria. The cat who doesn’t do anything.

The only interesting main character is the Panda who is cleverly put into the trope role of famous idol attending the school. Who is an absolute moron. Kind of like real Pandas. Some of the side characters though are really interesting- like the Lion who tries pursuing a female Impala and has probably a solid 3 eps of content across the season following that surprisingly great arc as he tries to woo her and get her parents on board and such. And the brief arc of the Zebra who tries to be cool and hang with the horses but is exposed as more like a donkey and goes to hand with them (and they are basically Magic The Gathering Nerds)

But some secondary characters are very one note and get boring quick- the School President who is a naked mole rat and thus hates wearing clothes. The headmaster who is a lobster and who’s tank is constantly being broken. The Hyena girl who thinks she is a boy. (Also as an aside, what a shocked that the male animals are drawn as bipedal versions of the animal while the female animals are basically cute human girls with animal ears.)

The world is also a bit weird- like Jin and not-Onodera have never seen another human before. Yet Jin hates all animals. And there is a group of ‘extinct’ animals who a) are not extinct coz they’re alive and b) hate humans and want to kill Jin and not-Onodera as punishment for making them go extinct. But the extinct dinosaurs are happy just being teachers?

Oh also there is one ep where they go to the underwater campus of their school by the ocean and Jin declares the ocean sucks shit. Making him an even more empathetic MC as he was objectively right.

Haikyuu S4 (+OVAs)

Christ after that essay about Chihyafura, I don’t really have anywhere near as much to say about Haikyuu S4. The OVAs Haikyuu!!: To the Topthat filled the gap between S3 and S4 that let us cover the progress of the none-Karusuno teams were a good idea so that the mainstream audience wouldn’t switch of at the lack of Karasuno content on launch.

It’s a great season so far although I am several episodes behind. Being sports-ball focused it is ideally watched in arc length binges in my view so you can see each match in one hit. There’s bit of character development, particularly for Tsukishima, and some funny moments of Hinata forcing his way to a training camp and getting valuable experience as a ball boy rather than a player.

But yeah, it’s Haikyuu. By this stage you love it or you don’t. There’ not much to say.

Things I’ve dropped mid-season

Kyokou Suri

This was my hot tip to be AOTS after the first couple eps. Interesting concept, interesting characters, a weird high-Kyokou Suirischool-girl-chasing-collage-aged/graduated-guy-that-would-be-unacceptably-creepy-in-reverse relationship I could just ignore. But it really stumbled.

Firstly, they kept mentioning the age difference between the male and female leads. Honestly the only thing creepier than the age difference was how often they mentioned it.

Secondly, the second/third arc with the dead idol ghost girl just dragged on and on and on and kept getting more and more complicated that I just gave up and dropped it. Female MC is in a new city and wait the idol ghost is being investigated by the male MCs ex-gf who is chasing up the death of her superior officer by idol-ghost while the male MC has disappeared but then he reappears to fight the idol monster by co-incidence in the same city and it turns out that the idol-ghost is powered by internet forums being managed by male MCs older sister who is actually in love with and went out with the cop girl originally coz they look similar and sister has some mysterious motive to be doing this and fucking things up for female MC and the ghost realm…

Like it killed the momentum where like 2 episodes in a row was the main guy being beaten up with a steel-beam mostly off screen in a deadlocked fight while the main girl sat in a car typing on internet forums and narrating to the secondary girl what lies she was making up to try weaken the ghost. And they didn’t finish it up. Ugh.

Also every episode seemed to end in the middle of a big moment, rather than having the big moments contained within an episode. Very weird.

Somali and the Forest Guardian

This was a very sweet and cute show but I found it to be too slow and too episodic to really hold my attention. Kind of like Kino Journey or Girls Last Tour. Nothing really happened rather Somali to Mori no Kamisamathan kind of shallow interactions with one off characters that showed an interesting world and the deepening relationship between (effectively) a man and his adopted/rescued daughter as they looked for the daughter’s real family.

I did like the notion in this show that in this multi-species world, humans had been incredibly racist and violent yet weak. Leading to them starting wars with the other races and being wiped into effective extinction to stop their cruelty. Although some of the details of these things didn’t really add up and I’m not sure it was intentional. Like there seems to maybe be a commentary on how history is written by the victor that isn’t deliberate. In particular the humans of old are admonished for their intense cruelty that led other races to be forced to fight them but no-one ever comments that the cruelty those races are/have inflicted on humans and suspected humans is equally (if not more) cruel. And like in one of the later eps the planned murder of the six year old human child is justified because “centuries ago a wolf man was walking through a forest and happened to stumble upon a human child who was for some reason in the woods being attacked by viscous wolves. The wolf man bravely fought off these wolves all by himself and gallantly took the child to the nearby village where he was then shot on sight out of racism/fear. Therefore we kill al humans”. Aside from some very convenient details and non-sensical responses by the humans, even it that story was true how the fuck did anyone find out about it? The wolfman was by himself and allegedly killed in a human village. How did word get out about what happened to him? I suspect this is just a by-product of less than stellar writing/continuity maintenance but it does hint at a potential great theme that could have been explored.

I should point out this show wasn’t really bad, it just was too slow and simple for my tastes. I think initially I dropped it episode 8 or 9. But then I actually got spoiled through facebook on what I thought was an incredible ending leading me to pick it back up and rush through to get to that moment, only to find that wasn’t the actual end.

So the main thrust of the story is that the Golem (dad) has been looking after the human (daughter) in his forest but he has a set lifespan of 10 years and is in his last year. So he wants to get her to somewhere where she will be able to survive and grow up safely before he dies. Hence their hunt for a human settlement. On facebook I saw a series of images that showed Somali (the human) at some big festival looking happy and being held up by another character to be able to see. Then she turns around to excitedly talk to the Golem and realises he wasn’t there. Which I think would have been an incredible way to end the show- with the Golem succeeding in his goal and then dying (and, I dunno, disintegrating into dust while Somali was looking away). Successful in his mission and her then left in the care of a new family to help her get through the sadness/mourning. So good. Instead that’s the halfway point and it turns out he’d just tried to fuck off. Somali chases him down and in a very typical and boring yelling conversation convinces him to stay with her forever.

Smile on the Runway

This was a surprisingly entertaining show about fashion and modelling that I didn’t expect to like. Kind of like how Devil wears Prada is a surprisingly great movie. Interesting lens to Runway de Waratteview it through of the male MC who is incredibly talented naturally but has incredibly financial family burdens on him that strangle his dreams and the female MC who has grown up in the modelling business and has everything right except for being too short.

However it doesn’t really go anywhere with that and while it started great with them both trying to work in the industry (while still being students) it quickly devolved into a typical, boring school based competition between male MC and highly exaggerated one note characters (while female MC and the industry people from earlier kind of disappear). It got boring very fast and I dropped it around episode 9.

Magia Record

Look, as a spin off story of Madoka this show had potentially had impossibly high expectations to live up to. Even with the clusterfuck that was the sequel movie and a large amount of Magia Record: Mahou Shoujo Madoka☆Magica Gaiden (TV)discourse in the lead up to this starting that the story is based off a game and is nowhere near as good.

Even so, I stuck with it for a while and while it had an interesting premise to start with (a magical girl who can’t remember what her wish was but does remember she has a little sister who everyone else has forgotten) but that was sidetracked as an increasingly large number of magical girls were introduced as they tried to truck down some luck granting magic thing and a secret shadowy organisation or something and… yeah… it was just boringly typical and uninteresting. Dropped after episode 10.

Issekai Quartet S2

For some reason I was pretty excited for this show but I’m fairly Isekai Quartet 2sure in hindsight that I wasn’t that big a fan of the first season. The first ep is centered around the introduction of the ‘Rising of the Shield Hero’ characters…. who are then ignored mostly for the rest of the season.

Nothing really interesting happens, with the 12 minute episodes being too long for a comedy short and too short for interesting story telling. Dropped after episode 9

Heya Camp (aka Yuru Camps S1.5 or S2?)

This was the biggest disappointment for me this season. I loved the first season of Yuru Camp and was really excited for the Heya Camp△sequel. To then be crushed when the sequel was a series of 3 minute shorts. So nothing really happened in them which made the week to week wait terrible. I think across them the story is the girls following one of those tourist hot spot maps.  Given the appeal of the show was them going camping not them going sight seeing, very disappointed. Dropped after episode 8 but honestly if there is every a proper sequel (which I think there is soon) I’ll probably just marathon all these as a block for a single ‘episode’ to lead into episode 1 of season 2.

Eizouken ni wa Te wo Dasu na!

I’m actually surprised I didn’t like this show given how much everyone else I know who watches anime creamed their metaphorical jeans over it. It’s about highschool girls wanting to Eizouken ni wa Te wo Dasu na!make anime as a school club and is a bit of a behind the scene look at the production process (with each of the main trio representing different parts of the process). I personally loved Shirobako which did a similar thing, as well as shows like New Game and Genshiken and Bakuman which also have similarities. Plus this show has a really unique art style which while maybe lower quality than a typical anime

But I very quickly found myself getting bored after a very fun first episode. It took me a few more episodes to figure it out- this show was incredibly shallow. Approx 1/3-1/2 of every episode was dedicated to an elaborate dream-esque sequence of the three girls (well, two of them) animating some sort of scene. Which looked great. But was actually accomplishing nothing in terms of further progressing the plot or developing the characters. It was just a flashy set piece that chewed up time and gave some meta-insight into the process of making anime. But the worst part was that the subject of each sequence was completely random and disconnected from any larger idea (at least in the episodes I saw) being inspired by some random thing encountered as the trio set up their ‘film club’ to make an anime.  I suspect that if each sequence had been them actually making something to do with the anime they wanted to make rather than just random shit it would have been orders of magnitude better. Dropped after 3 episodes.

Other things worth commenting on

Darwin’s Game- A fairly fun concept mixing death games a la Hunger Games or Battle Royale with a mobile app delivery system. You get invited in and manifest some special ability and then have to fight (often to the death) to win and earn points or whatever. The goal of the game wasn’t really explained in the first three eps and the over-the-top female lead’s lady-boner for the MC put me off enough to not watch further But I have heard some good things about it so maybe it is worth checking out again given the COVIF-19 shut downs…

Koisuru Asteroid- I was repeatedly pointed out to me how beatifically and well animated this show was, in particular how the studio actually put in effort and resources to animate characters in the background. While nice, that wasn’t enough to cover over the paper thin characters and lack of interesting angles being explored in the fairly interesting concept of kids trying to make a school club of two different interests being jammed together work. Just a typical high school girls doing misc things anime.

Hatena Illusion- It’s like the worst character of the seven highschool prodigies show got his own spin off in a dark universe version of Magic Kaito.

Itai no wa Iya nano de Bougyoryoku ni Kyokufuri Shitai to Omoimasu- A SAO clone where the gimmick is a female lead and game devs who don’t know how to design or balance a game

Infinite Dendrogram- Another SAO clone that apparently has some great twist halfway through where it turns out it isn’t a game but is actually a real alternate reality that the people have been fucking with and/or saving. Also apparently the MC has some super famous siblings. Too bad it was incredibly bland (and had the worst fight scene I’ve ever seen where the guys’ plan was to hopefully not be killed more than six times…) so fuck that

Nanabun no Nijyuuni- a weird show where it’s called 22/7 but is a group of eight random wannabe idols following the instructions given from a magic rock underground. Very strange.

Number 24- a terrible rugby anime where they try to have a message that if you are horrifically injured in a sports match all you need is will power to overcome it.

Oda Cinnamon Nobunaga- Nobunaga and his contemporaries are reincarnated as dogs in modern Japan. Just what will they think of next?

Plunderer- why would you make your main character specifically a sex pest?

Pet- what seemed to initially be an elaborate, trippy show about mind bending power quickly degenerated into an erratic mess with big reveals and twists that just served to make things worse.

Rikei ga Koi ni Ochita no de Shoumei shitemita- like the Big Bang Theory but anime i.e. someone trying to make a show about scientists who has never seen a real scientist. let alone interacted with one.

ARP Backstage Pass- absolutely terrible male Vocaloid group show but fantastically bad post-credit scene where the of Vocaloids of the characters are awkwardly standing about in a recording studio commenting on the episode. Where the real world animators have them doing some whacked movements to try make them look real or something.

Oshi ga Budoukan Ittekuretara Shinu- a really cool concept of showing the idol craze from the perspective of a hard core fan rather than just the idol group. However really reminded me how I dislike idol fans, moreso than I dislike Idols themselves, so a very quick drop after watching most of an episode to confirm I did not like any of the characters who were archetypical fans.

ID Invaded- a mix of the worst parts of Psychopass and Minority Report. Had an interesting start but didn’t really go anywhere with it

Other

Beastars (from last season but only watched this season)

Japan is trying to make furries acceptable it seems. And wolf girls sexy. With a weird amount of success. (Like seriously the amount of work put into making the underclass wolf girl Juno Beastarsbe hot was crazy)

But seriously- WHO THE FUCK KILLED TEM?! That is such a strong opening plot thread that is dropped  at the end of ep2/start of ep 3 to pursue a romance story between a wolf and a rabbit plus the staging of a play by the very exclusive drama club. Such a strange decision to just drop the inciting incident and never revisit it or solve who murdered the guy. Like the first two eps are really sombre as the MC Legossi the wolf things about the murder and what it means… to then have ep2 end with a rabbit stripping naked and trying to fuck Legossi coz she thinks he is trying to fuck her.

Also it really struck me as weird that people (well, animals) were so against interspecies relationships yet were super keen on having an integrated society to overcome carnivore vs herbivore problems. Like a great way to move past those would be to allow (and encourage) people to hang out with different people. And maybe even fuck a bit.

Haru (hot rabbit upperclassman) gets a real rough trot in this movie- she’s basically forced into being a bit of a slut as that’s the only way she can get people to interact with her and then she gets mercilessly bullied for it. But there were some great scenes between her and Legossi and they connect o a deeper emotional leevl that neither of them knows how to respond to.

There’s some weird shit that happens with the… deer(?) Louis at the end that I don’t really understand. Wasn’t clear what was going on. But the part where he brutally finishes off the Lion Mafia (after Legossi had fucked them up saving the kidnapped Haru) was mercilessly cold. On the flip side, the show got a bit too into how brave and great Louis was for performing in the school play despite his hurt ankle… and how he then had to come in and replace his replacement in the second show coz only he could act well for the legions of drama fans at the school.

There are a few odd bits towards the end that just struck me as implausible, even in a world of animal people. Firstly, there was a scene where the Town Mayor was just wandering about the set up for a festival with no aides or media or anything. Letting him tell Legossi and/or Louis (forget which, maybe both) to give up on Haru coz the Lion Mafia who had taken her were a) going to eat her and b) too powerful to stop. How was the maor able to say that out loud without someone hearing it and the media going crazy?!

At the same festival, after doing a weirdly sexual dance the wolf girl Juno stops everything down to loudly proclaim how great and gentle Legossit is. Which then miraculously cures all the anti-carnivore sentiment the audience was feeling at the time given a spate of carnivore cause murders of herbivores… yeah cool…

Also there is a weird post-credit teaser that didn’t really make sense. Looking it up it was a teaser about the murderer of Tem and some crazy drugs storyline…. cool, I think a S2 has been greenlit by Netflix

Konosuba Movie

This was fine. Not great. Not terrible. It was barely a movie. It was literally a five episode arc stitched together into a single release. Including the little scene change still images of the Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo!: Kurenai Densetsuchibi characters. Which they used to skip over scenes- which works fine for TV shows but for a movie it was weirdly jarring as we were basically leaving scenes mid-conversation so a joke could land and then not seeing how they got from one location/time period to the next.

There were some great parts- like peak Konosuba humour when Kazuma helps the big bad open the door into the secret lab and then kicks them down the stairs and locks them inside. (Unfortunately the big bad then broke out). Also the Crimson Demons were pretty great- both their insane levels of OPness and the clearly manufacture ‘bit’ joke nature of all the crap they shout out for their magic (although the explanation for their OPness was both boring and unnecessary). Plus the comedic and tragic poverty of Megumin’s family, leading to them trying increasingly elaborate plans to get her hooked up with Kazuma, was great.

Conversely- there was some weird shit that Japan seems to be ok with and shouldn’t. Like lazy jokes about rape and then transphobia with the Big Bad. Ugh. Just terrible.

Also Yunyun was criminally underused. As usual with Konosuba. The only ‘heart’ in all of the movie was when Yunyun saved Megumin’s sister in a flashback and in doing so fucked her allocation of magic skill points.

While the final fight scene was very well animated, there was some dodgy stuff in other parts of the film and I don’t think it was really worth seeing in cinema.

Gym Anime

Sadly this might be the last Gym Anime section for a while given my gym has closed due to COVIF-19 and it’s much harder to walk around outside and watch anime on my iPad.

Log Horizon S1

Goddamn this show was fantastic. It admittedly starts a little slow as it introduces game concepts that are much more well Log Horizonknown amongst the anime watching community than they were back when it came out. This does become more pronounced with the kids training arc as it really goes whole hog in establishing the foundations of the game mechanics and logic and stuff which is essential for a first time watcher.

But the excellent arcs of ‘Crescent Moon Burger’ where Shiro uses economics and guile to wrench the Akiba players out of depression and give them a purpose was great and the ‘Return of the Goblin King’ where they had to build relations with the NPC nations and then go fight off a goblin invasion they’d inadvertently caused more than make up for those draggy bits. Also the last arc about the festival was super rushed but I dunno what else one could do with a 3 episode chunk after you finish you big main arc for a 2 cour show. And those two great arcs definitely make up the majority of the show.

Having recently watched SNAFU I found it interesting to compare how Shiro embracing the villain role was done compared to Hachiman. Where Shiro’s evil embrace is much more accepted by those around him (with Minori being a notable exception to this but it’s played that it is, aside from her being in love with him, due to her being younger while the older people realise the value of having a villain around). But the way that Shiro and Crusty basically do good cop-bad cop to all of Akihabara and then then NPC nations and stuff was really well executed.

It also did these like, non-battlefield battles really really well. In particular Shiro’s schemes to set up the Roundtable (both in getting the money to buy the guild hall and in inviting the selected guilds to form the Roundtable) and Minori going through paperwork to get the festival ready and the political dynamics to get relationships set up with the NPC nation were all really good.

I also really like the relationship that was built up between Crusty and Rayneshia (Lenissia?). Felt very organic and believable. I similarly found Naotusugu and Marrielle plus Rudy and Isuzu. I found the Nyanta-Serrara and Shiroe-Minori pseudo relationships less appealing though given they were both one-way attractions by much younger girls to much older guys. Actually I thought there were too many chicks interested in Shiroe but I guess that’s what you get with the MC.

Speaking of Rudy- damn the emotional beat of him and his contract signing with Shiroe to get him out of a tight spot was fucking incredibly. Tears to my eyes.

I think weirdly that this show has an incredibly interesting world and really want to find out what is going one (why are the Adventurers here? What happened to the Knights of Izumo?) but I have such a bitter taste in my mouth from S2 being so disappointing that I couldn’t do it. Might be something I force myself through in the shutdown in prep for S3 coming out soonish.

Akagi

Watched this ages ago with some mates I haven’t seen in ages and was a bit unsure about giving it another go. I watched the first arc, seven eps, and it was really good. Super tense as the Touhai Densetsu Akagi: Yami ni Maiorita Tensaititular Akagi plays mahjong against various Yakuza people and beats them despite the odds (often involving some level of cheating). I remembered that Akagi won through superb skill but on this rewatch his victories are much more due to extraordinary luck than anything else. And external luck- like lucky the cop chasing him for crashing a car into the ocean was crooked and also knew yakuza people. There isn’t really much else to say, it was a fun show. Although fuck off is they want me to believe that Akagi is 13. Twenty is a more believable age. Episode 8 then had a time skip by 5 years or something and I decided my appetite in the area had been whet so I decided to pause and move on to something else.

Silver Spoon S1+S2

Damn this show was great. Seeing Hachiken develop as a character in this entirely new environment (an agricultural high school) and thus force all the farm kids to change with his fresh, city attitude to things was so fucking good. I remembered from Gin no Sajimy initial watch that tragedy involving Komoba’s family going bankrupt and him having to leave school but I was surprised that played out in late S2. Could have sworn it was S1, especially since the knowledge of this impending event gave a hugely bittersweet taste to all the advice the farm kids were giving Hachiken about how to adapt to the farm life right away from episode 1.

I really loved the Porkbowl arc- a great story that forced all the characters (and the viewer) to think about the reality and morality of modern animal farming practices. The school festival arc that wrapped S1 was pretty fun but predictable- Hachiken was clearly overcommitted and while him getting hospitalised when he crashed and burned was more extreme than expected, that and the result where everyone else pitched in to cover were predictable. Plus the theme across the whole series about these young kids having to decide whether to try follow their dreams or stay in the family business (or try to do both or try to merge them together) was really impactful.

There were also lots of little moments with the characters that were really funny- like Tomikawa being an idiot, the Equestrian club senpai being unable to get a job, the redhead girl stealing the teachers cheese, Hachiken’s brother being a lazy genius worker, the dynamic between Hachiken and Mikage’s father. Plus some episodic storylines about people mistakenly trying to fin UFOs or mistakenly thinking someone had gotten knocked up.

That being said, I felt really disappointed when they show end for the sheer number of plot threads that were not resolved. In particular the Hackiken-Mikage romance, the need for Mikage to raise her grades to be able to get into uni and the horrifically fucked up family situation Hachiken had left behind by choosing this school. Related to this, both series were only 11 episodes long. I think those missing 2-4 episodes to have a full 2 cour really would have let them flesh those things our and make an all round stellar show.

Toaru Kagaku no Accelerator

This show had a goodToaru Kagaku no Accelerator start but I dropped it mid-episode 5 when ‘Antiskill’ (a police group I don’t care about) were fighting ‘DA’ (a terrorist group I didn’t know anything about) in a gun fight (that was poorly animated). Fuck that. I came to see Accelerator kick ass using his crazy OP esper powers while Last Order runs around being funny and cute with him.

Servant x Service

Firstly- a fucking great OP. Absolutely bangin tune. And then a really funny and enjoyable show. Hasebe is basically what I Servant x Serviceaspire to be as a working professional- maximally lazy and still employed (and very good at the job when it needs to be done). I was really pleased to see how the Hasebe-Lucy relationship developed although the twist that it was his dad who approved her crazy name was very obvious from episode 1. The twist about the Section Manager being a stuffed rabbit was less grating than I remembered it being.

Being a fairly casual comedy there isn’t really a lot to point at as a fantastic key moment. It has a really solid cast, both the ‘main’ three of Hasebe, Lucy and Miyoshi as new employees but also the extra’s like the work senpais Ichimaya and Chihaya plus Toko as the ‘customer’/little sister with a brother complex. But I was really fucking annoyed at how little the romance plots moved. Especially between Ichimaya and Chihaya. Like they fucking teased them coming out public, especially to Ichimaya’s sister Toko so much and yet didn’t fucking do it. Also the introduction of Tanaka as a rival for Hasebe (sort of?) and a love interest for Miyoshi (sort of?) felt really forced as she was the only main person without a love interest.

But definitely worth a watch if you haven’t seen it before. Would love a second season!

School-Life!

I think this has possibly the best first episode of anything, although you only realise that at the very end of the episode.Gakkougurashi! While  rewatching it when you know what is going on you spot heaps of little clues- the odd grave marker in the rooftop garden, the odd postures of the people on the sports field. You think it’s just cute girls doing cute things but then bamn- zombie apocalypse and the MC girl has had a mental snap and is delusional. Fucking boom.

Across the series it had a great mix of tense moments and fun/funny moments. Mixing pool episodes with dangerous trips to the mall to get supplies. Weirdly time appropriate with the COVID-19 stuff shutting shit down and the need for people to keen active and entertained beyond ‘just surviving’.

My only main criticism is a story related one… CLOSE THE FUCKING SCHOOL GATE. We see the school has a really solid wall/fence around it with apparently only one entry/exit point through the front gate. Close it. Stop zombies form being able to get into the complex and then you can slowly knock off the ones who are already inside. Goddammit. We also later find out the school was a deliberate safe point/bunker for the potential zombie apocalypse so it would definitely have been able to do it.

Actually a second main criticism- it climaxed like half an episode too early which then meant that the last half of the finale was weirdly drawn out. Like they introduced the idea of their being a second dog at the school which is what prompted the now dead original dog to venture out of the safe zone… only to then fuck off to look for another safe house and not get the dog (which is confirmed to be there in the credits… why?). Although the surprise Kei reveal in that section was quite a shock and powerful. The S2 tease post-credits was maybe a bit optimistic.

Akame ga Kill

Another surprisingly good show to rewatch. The music wasn’t as good as I remembered but the show itself had a great mix of Akame ga Kill!cool action/fight scenes and funny and/or touching character moments. And the twist reveal in ep1/2 about what was going on (and what happened with Tatsumi’s friends) really set a great tone for the whole show. Not what was expected.

Also holy shit so many characters die. I remembered Bulat’s death but then Sheele died less than two episodes later. Then towards the end of the season in a 20 minute period across two episodes we lose three main characters in a row. Then the MAIN PROTAGANIST dies in the SECOND LAST episode. What the hell,  Crazy.

For a 2 cour series the escalation of power was pretty reasonable and consistent across the whole show. Although there seemed to be a bit too many ‘villain of the week’ episodes jammed in to the end to justify why the good team and bad team didn’t just immediately fight around ep16 instead of ep22.

Also it really didn’t make sense to me that Wave stuck on Team Bad when his entire character was ill-suited to them. Exactly like Tatsumi. (Sure Wave teamed up with Tatsumi at the end, but only at the point where basically all of Team Bad were dead and another, more powerful foe had shown up)

Great show, definitely worth checking out. Just don’t get attached to anyone.

Not Working!

Before watching Servant x Service, I wanted toWorking!! watch Working! which was by the same creator but down first. My first attempt to watch it had Crunchroll load up the spin off show which was fine but less good. Then it started playing S2 Episode 1 of Working!!. Then episode 1 of season 3. Then it decided to tell me that for some reason season 1 isn’t available in Australia for some unknown reason. So I didn’t watch it

Normal TV

Watchmen S1

Ugh this was so long ago that talking about it seems really pointless. Especially given I thought it was interesting but not Watchmen Postervery exciting. It was a really fun journey but in the end it was actually a really simple revenge plot that was pretty stupid and flawed. I know that in the OG comic this is a sequel to that the complex and dumb plot by Ozymandias is meant to be stupid to the reader but this was boring stupid.

I liked the little easter eggs clues hid throughout the place e.g. the old man Ozymandias statue, the big blue dildo called Ex-Cal-ibur. But got annoyed at stuff that wasn’t explained- that the silver man who slid into the drain system while being chased by a cop.

I thought Dr Manhattan’s death at the end was stupid. Very avoidable. Kind of a lazy way to get around him being both so OP and so detached from the worldly problems of the… well… world.

The two outstanding things to me were a) the Jeremy Irons scenes which were so different to everything else and the slow reveal of what was going on there and b) the flashback episode to Hooded Mask in like the 1920s or 30s.

Yeah I dunno. I vaguely remember the movie and have had the comic (well, ‘graphic novel’) explained to me numerous times but I really didn’t see what was so great about this show. But definitely worth watching if you do love the OG comic from what I can tell, a great adaption of that idea/concept into a modern setting.

Witcher S1

This was an odd show. I really didn’t like the start and initially dropped it after one episode. But for some reason I went back The Witcher Posterand persevered and found the second half was much better.

I think the idea of disconnected timelines was interesting but think it was poorly done as the chronologically last storyline spoiled parts of the other two. Also the fact one story took centuries, one years and the last a matter of days wasn’t clear to me to begin with and made this seem inexplicably all over the place. But looking into the production this is because S1 was really a S0 adapting a whole bunch of prequel material rather than adapting a singular story arc.

I don’t know why people creamed themselves over the fights in episode 1. Or one of the fights in ep 1. Nothing seemed particularly interesting or great about them.

The cliffhanger ending was really fucking annoying. Clearly made to generate hype and media as people talk about it. The mysterious old man on the dragon hunt quest turning out to be a dragon was very predictable.

The Bard guy shat me to no end. Such a stupid audience/author insert- talking about modern shit like PR and marketing in a world where those things don’t exist coz people are too busy avoiding dragons and the plague.

I have a note that says “I dont’ get Yennefer gating the school”. I don’t know what the fuck I meant by that. Maybe ‘hating’?

I guess this was fine but I would wait until the next season is out. Maybe just watch the first six episodes and then wait to finish the last two when the rest of the story is out.

The Mandalorian (S1?)

This was pretty good. It dragged in the middle with some self-contained stuff that was capped with a meh episode ironically The Mandalorian Posterbeing direct by Dave Filioni. But then it has a great prison escape movie with a double cross and then revenge (featuring a really ugly twilek and a Robot voiced by Moss from IT Crowd) that had an obvious but satisfying little epilogue scene. Then the last couple eps had a great through line bringing things together from previous episodes so the titular Mandalorian could protect/save baby yoda. There was also a surprisingly emotional beat when we learned Mando’s clan had all been massacred after his initial betrayal and escape to save Baby Yoda. And an even more surprising reveal of the Dark Saber in the hands of an ex-Imperial Officer.

Also took me surprisingly long to pin down when exactly this movie falls in the Star Wars timeline. And I liked how there was some moving around of episode release dates so that the episode where Baby Yoda does force healing would come out before the Rise of Skywalker so they could technically say that was a pre-established force power and not a random thing they threw in to try piece together a movie plot.

I really liked this because it’s probably the first thing since the Prequels that have legitimately expanded the scope of the Star Wars universe with new ideas and concepts and themes and stuff. Rather than just retreading old ones or shitting on old ones.

Star Trek Picard

This was an odd one for me because I initially was really enjoying the show… then I watched the Red Letter Media reviews and realised that I was really missing some stuff. In Star Trek: Picard Posterparticular, this wasn’t really a Star Trek show. It seems to have been written by people who have only seen the Star Trek movies and don’t really get the Star Trek universe.

For example, the Romulan Star Empire isn’t just one planet in one solar system. It’s a system spanning group as big as the Federation. Which means it makes no sense why they would be entirely reliant on the Federation for support evacuating a single star system. Nor does it make sense that the Federation would suddenly become incredibly xenophobic and hate the Romulans and decide to pull aid after an entirely unrelated issue with synthetic robots. Again the Federation isn’t reliant only on the resources of the Earth system so losing Mars isn’t that big of a deal. But more to the point, just because the Romulans are sort of enemies doesn’t mean the Federation would hang them out to dry. Almost the opposite- originally the Klingons were the big enemies but the Federation tirelessly worked to turn them into allies. They’d do the same for the Romulans.

Whatsmore, within the Federation it’s established that wealth is no longer really a thing and poverty doesn’t exist. So having Ravi live in poverty and be super bitter over Picard’s rich family wealth makes no sense. (Also Picard’s family home was destroyed in a fire that killed all his family, so it make no sense that his place is furnished with ancient family heirloom furniture). It reeks of trying to jam in ‘real world’ messages in an ineffective way (as opposed to how prior Star Treks did that super subtly and expertly). In a similar vein the way the main story was centred around ancient Romulan myths and prophecies and ‘those chosen one’ being fulfilled really ran counter to the rationalism that is in the DNA of Star Trek.

On the character side of things, even I know that the Picard in this new series is super disconnected from the original Picard. Firstly Picard hates kids so his weird relationship with the Romulan Warrior Monk boy makes no sense (no does his keeping children memorabilia in his storage locker). But also Picard was famously distant from his crew in general, him going to play poker with them at the end of the series was a first. But if there were any crew member he was close to, it was Dr Beverley Crusher. Not Data. The weird maybe homosexual love relationship they set up between Picard and Data as Picard’s driving force in his Enterprise live makes no sense. Now I acknowledge that in the 20-40 years between TNG and Picard, Picard could have changed. But you need to show that change, even if through flashbacks, not just make it and then set up in flashbacks that he’d actually always been this way.

I think this show suffered for having a lack of a consistent story through line. Like in episode 1 we’re introduced to a bunch of characters who are either dead or left behind by the end of episode 3…. like what was the point of the Romulan butlers Picard had being left behind. Then in the middle it got diverted into this side story about Borg and borg drones being de-borgified. Which was kind of interesting but again didn’t really serve much of a purpose for the overall story of ‘what happened with the Synths’ (also like, since when were they called ‘Synths’?’). Although I’m glad that it didn’t turn out that the Borg were actually created by the Romulans way in the past… it just turned out one lady was so sad it destroyed the Bog cubes ability to function… so… yay? There’s also this clumsy introduction of Seven of Nine for Voyager fans plus this weird meta-death of a Borg character who’s OG actor become a weird racist on Twitter and they wanted to make clear he wouldn’t be able to reprise the role.

Then in the final clump of episodes (after a one off ep making pizza in a forest planet where we learn the federation decided to just let people die of a curable illness because they became xenophobic against synths…) we finally get to the plot about the synths. Where it turns out that they weren’t actually evil but then actually they are evil but then they can maybe choose to not be evil. Because the show is just ripping off the plot of Mass Effect 3 and/or Halo 2 (I think its Halo 2) of some external force of uber-Synths being summoned by the Synths to destroy all organic life. Somehow. Ugh it’s such a mess.

The evil Romulans are also super one note and shallow villains. And they hit all the lame stereotypes- the evil girl who just likes being cruel and killing things (and was disguised as a human for no real reason in ep1). The evil boy who turns out to not be evil and switches sides coz he loves one of the main girls. The weird Romulan Starfleet lady who is a mole in Starfleet but not a good one.

Even stuff within the 10 episode span weren’t internally consistent. Like they talk in ep2 about how the synths are super strong and can rip through titanium walls with their hands. But then in ep10 three of our heroes go in hand-to-hand combat with them and aren’t immediately murdered. The AI scientist Agnes has some weird shit done to her to make her a mind slave or something so it’s impossible to know when her actions are a secret doublecross of the heroes or a triplecross of the people who mind fucked her to go back with the heroes. And the Elnore Warrior Monk guy is either poorly written or poorly acted because he seems so out of place as an idiot comedy character while everyone else is a crazy smart drama character.

When they revealed that not-Data was trying to figure out how to transfer memories, was pretty obvious that the random illness Picard was diagnosed with in ep1 that hadn’t come up again was going to flare up in the end and he’d be saved by getting put into a new body. Also got very annoyed how in the final scene basically every character had paired up with these weird forced diversity things- Picard+Data (although Data was now dead), Ravi and Seven of Nine, Agnes and Rious(?). So boring.

The Mole US (S1)

This was a surprising random thing I watched a couple weeks ago. One of the better Survivor podcasts I listen to, the Dom The Mole Posterand Colin Podcast, talked about them doing a retrospective on this and how it was all available on YouTube. Having a vague recollection of it from my childhood and a lot of workplace flexibility at home I figured I’d give it a shot.

And damn its really good. Anderson Cooper does a great job as host (even if he does blow up the games of some players by sharing what they’ve done to to group). It is surprisingly engaging, I think because being early in the reality TV phenomenon it had actual, real people being themselves rather than people playing characters to try get famous (although the Mole was of course playing a character).

The obvious thing to note is how dated it is- this show is from pre 9/11 and it shows. The people don’t really get how mobile phones work, have to read/follow paper maps or tourist guidebooks for info and play dominoes to fill in time when waiting for stuff. Also the shit they get asked to do is crazy by modern standards- like in one challenge they each have to get charged by a bull twice and try pull the bull down via its tail. Crazy.

For the most part the challenges were really good I felt. The idea is that they had to come up with things that required teamwork and required opportunities for the contestants to legitimately not do it (e.g. fear of heights for skydiving) or for the contestants to actively betray the tea for individual reward i.e. exemption from elimination (e.g. the laser tag challenge) and also let the Mole make legitimate sabotage attempts without being obvious (e.g. the paintball night defence, the watch identification task).

One obvious exception to this was the challenge where one person had to agree to shave their hair. Making a woman in particular do this for like $1000 of pot money is insanely unreasonable given the cultural and social norms around women’s hair. Especially when the woman in question is getting married in two months time. That was just fucked.

Another thing I liked was the obvious production vs contestant stuff going on. Like one contestant got busted snooping in a production van for clues and one challenge was deliberately leaving the contestants unsupervised near a (fake) production notebook. Also in the finale contestants who’d identified the Mole correctly pointed out they’d used things like how production were allocating hotel rooms to determine who the Mole was. Such open battle lines between these two groups was so strange and great.

I was legit surprised at who the Mole was at the end and who the winner was I’d tipped the Winner was the Mole and the guy who came 2nd would win. But I think that was because they’d nailed the key strategy in the Mole- the two non-Moles Stephen and Jim had not only formed a solid alliance but they’d quickly nailed down that Kathryn was the Mole. Which then meant that they started deliberately doing Mole like behaviour to make other people suspect them and have the other guy throw suspicion on them. That way everyone else would be guessing wrong and get eliminated.

This works really well because the elimination mechanic is entirely in the individual players hands- they have to answer a bunch of questions about what the Mole had done in that cycle’s tasks. I really like this mechanic and how it leaves things entirely up to to the individual’s own ability to keep them in the game. Is the only reality TV show I’m aware of that does that. Although I do think that some mechanism where a) precise success on the quiz mattered (although rewarding the top scorer would fuck the Mole… maybe the median scorer?) and b) where players could more actively try get certain contestants eliminated would be good.

But yeah. This was a fantastic show. I tried to watch the Australian version too but only ep1 was available on YouTube (which was a beat for beat repeat of the US version weirdly enough). The rest are blocked for copyright reason. Will see if I can wrangle other copies of the show.

Survivor Aus All Stars (S5/7)

Look I’ve got a lot of thoughts and this blog is already too long Australian Survivor Poster(nearly 11,000 words…). I’m going to write up something on All Stars separately.

Fall 2019 Season + Extra bits and pieces

Holy crap this is highly delayed. I completed underestimated how much crap I’ve watched. Plus it all got a little conflated with my Summer Hermit watching so I may be double counting a few things here.

Fall 2019 Seasonal

Watched

Honzuki no Gekokujou

This was a fantastic show, definitely AOTS. Despite being in the very tired genre of isekai it an an interesting twist in that it had a female lead not a male Honzuki no Gekokujou: Shisho ni Naru Tame ni wa Shudan wo Erandeiraremasenlead. Which in hindsight is a shockingly rare set up. Perhaps related to it being a female lead it wasn’t about being an OP fighter but instead using real world knowledge to be a clever inventor and savvy business person (well, mostly savvy business person- one of my few issues with the show was how often Main somehow forgot how revolutionary/profitable her ideas were and just gave them away. Once was reasonable, every time after that was just taking the piss). I also really liked how her identify as a reincarnated person was learned by a peer and rather than drawing out the ‘try and keep them non suspicious in case they don’t really know something is up’ they resolve it very efficiently within a single episode of time. I was a bit salty that the show didn’t get to the point of the story that the pre-OP part of ep1 was flashing forward to but the announcement of a second season made it more bearable. Overall it was a fantastic show that had believeable characters and a fairly interesting world/social/political set up that was developed really well as we saw it through Main. The only real issue I had with the show was the concept that magic exists in the world and can manifest in anyone but that the nobles haven’t set up systems to scoop up any peasants who manifest magic to get control of their abilities given how a) powerful and b) rare magic manifesting is. To the point that the peasant classes have a named illness that has a 100% kill rate in their children who have magic powers but aren’t trained to deal with them. This was non-sensical waste of resources was further exacerbated in the last arc where it reveals that there is a current chronic shortage of magic that is absolutely necessary for harvesting food. To to point that Main can strong-arm people who want to use her magic to give her everything she needs/wants. Other than this, a really fantastic show and I highly recommend it.

Hoshiai no Sora

This was a pretty great show too and an anime original story which is an increasing rarity these days. My biggest knock against the show was that it Hoshiai no Soratried to do too much- every person involved in the soft-tennis club had some sort of issues to deal with, even the one girl who was just an unexplained fan of the club and would come watch. And even the main opponents in the tournament at the end of the show had big personality issues that they got to confront and try to overcome (with mixed success as the plot demanded the MCs to win and lose specific games XD). Like the main MC was struggling with poverty, isolation and an abusive father who he and his overworked single mother tried to avoid. The second MC had *some sort of issue with his Mum* that wasn’t properly explored or even explained over the course of the 13 episodes. Another one had horrific burns and trauma from being abused as a kid. Another was being bullied/controlled by his Mum who wanted him to focus on studying and nothing else. Another got in a fight with his dad and broke his arm. Another had some problem that I can’t remember. The girl had depression and like, writers block or equivalent with her online art persona thing. Even the supervisor had I think some issues being an effective authority maybe? All that being said, the character problems that it does have time to flesh out and deal with it does so really well, with a great use of the camaraderie via saving a failing school sports club. And learning about the weird Japanese cousin of tennis “soft-tennis” was interesting… as much as they explained the sport which they didn’t really. All in all, a solid watch with a good mix of sport-drama and character growth that I probbaly won’t ever think about again.

Bokuben S2

I remember liking S1 of this but this season was generally pretty disappointing. Like it was just the same jokes and ideas as S1 again without any real growth or development. Until literally the last episode or two where there was Bokutachi wa Benkyou ga Dekinai!suddenly a huge focus on actually finishing school and making decisions, followed with an epilogue set a yeah later where they’d actually made decisions and one person was moving to Australia to study. Although none of the characters managed to actually hook up and get in a relationship with the MC. I found the middle chunk of this season particularly a drag because it was a series of 1-2 episode arcs featuring/focusing solely on individual girls. Which means that if if wasn’t your preferred female lead (which is of course Furuhashi as the objectively best girl) the episode was pointless wheel-spinning. But I was surprisingly emotional with the epilogue scene as it was set up as a definitive ending to the story. No potential S3, no need to go look at (read: buy) manga or light novels to find out how things go. It was a clear and definitive end which is such a rarity. But I wouldn’t really recommend people watch this unless this genre is up their alle

Shinchou Yuusha

This was an interesting one where I dropped this after the first couple eps coz it was a fairly typical isekai and the ‘twist’ of the overly cautious MC hero spending all his time training than actually doing the mission wore very thin straight away. And the sexualisation of the goddess female lead was done Shinchou Yuusha: Kono Yuusha ga Ore Tsueee Kuse ni Shinchou Sugirureally weirdly and uncomfortably. But then I got spoiled (deliberately) on the back end of the story where it was explained why the guy was so cautious and how it related to some of the highly placed gods/goddesses in the gods ranking system in their home realm. Which was itself an interesting idea and I was interested to see how they played that out. Mediocre-ly as it turned out. And the way they resolved the issue of the hero dying(?) and the goddess breaking rules to try save the hero and the world from the fucked situation they ended up in was pretty stupid. Basically set up a repeat of ‘you saved one impossibly difficult world, as punishment you now need to save an even more impossibly difficult world’. Also the jokes of each god’s training regimen/methods were a bit of a mixed bag. But I did like the way that it turned on it’s head the trope-y uses of the people in the main world e.g. a sidekick who was meant to be sacrificed to make a special sword, an all-powerful human ally who turned out to have switched sides etc. Nothing ground breaking but if you like cool fantasy battles and underdressed female characters is maybe worth giving it a crack.

Assassins Pride

This was a pretty bad show. Had an interesting concept of like a world in darkness with lantern-esque cities as oasis of life with rich and magically powerful nobles living in them and weird-maybe-half-human creatures coming out of the darkness who need to be fought back. But then it didn’t really do Assassins Prideanything with that and instead focused on developing the teacher-student turned quasi-lover relationship between the MC tutor/war veteran and his 12-14 year old MC student who he sneakily gives magic powers to. And you can tell she was very/too young by her lack of oversized breasts. There was a bit of funny stuff between the MC tutor and his counterpart who was a famous magic person and was teaching the far more successful/competent cousin of his student. But then there was a reveal that they had a connection from when they were children which made their subsequent (or prior?) interactions a bit weird. Then the main story arc at the end was some non-sensical political play bs inflicted by people we barely knew as characters against the MC student’s dad/family. That was then resolved in a fairly silly way that was trying to set up more story stuff that will never get animated. I guess someone might be interested on continuing on reading the books but like, why?

Hataage! Kemono Michi

This was hot garbage and looking back I’m surprised and ashamed that I actually watched the whole thing. I guess I was just hoping it’d rise to the same comedy gold as Konosuba given it was by the same creator. It started with a Hataage! Kemono Michiterrible joke of the main MC german suplexing a princess and a close up shot on her panties that lingered too many times and for too long. Then later on the MC turned out to be a massive furry and sexually assaulted someone. And through the whole series the literal trauma they were given from this was played for laughs via the exact same joke multiple times. And that lazy comedy was the worst part- for example there was a joke where people would call the MC a “Monster Killer” or whatever and he’d one-shot KO them. Every episode. Someone (often the exact same person) would call him the exact same title (about killing animals) and he’d react the exact same way. And they’d drop some incredibly valuable piece of equipment, who the MCs sidekick would pick up and then sell for money. The only part of the joke that changed was the piece of loot, otherwise the joke was lazily unchanged- and an easy tweak would be to have the title he was called get more and more crazy (as in, people misunderstood his reaction as thinking it was underplaying his skill/power rather than him reacting to the idea of killing animals). Otherwise there was nothing special- the wrestling twist on isekai didn’t add much. I think because the idea of a wrestler (as opposed to say an MMA fighter) being an unbeatable warrior in a world of beastmen and orcs and dragons and shit just didn’t fly. I think the only bit I legit found funny was the scene where they introduce the dragon-girl and her vampire servant. Where vampire is making big declarations on a roof and the MC starts throwing rocks at her. Then the dragon-girl joins in throwing rocks. Aside from that the characters and their arc were fairly standard and the action was nothing special.

Legend of the Galactic Heroes- Die Neue These

This show is great. Was an adaptation of three movies (I’ve linked to the first one) into 12 episodes so some of the individual break points were a little off. Building on my effusive Ginga Eiyuu Densetsu: Die Neue These - Seiran 1praise for the first season, I don’t have any more to add- the complex world and characters here are great. I also don’t put much stock in the most common criticism I hear of the show that the people are two pretty. It’s maybe true but it is undoubtedly more watchable than the 80s original series in terms of the art style and animation quality. Don’t get me wrong, the original was great for the time but it looks very dated. And while I do personally feel the quality of the story and characters in the original vastly outweigh the dated look, for those who can’t get past it (which is valid) this remake is fantastic. Also I’m led to believe it may be starting to have difference to the original as it adapts things differently (kind of like the Evangelion rebuild?). Which relates to the translation of the German subtitle. But most importantly0 fuck I feel so sorry and sad for Kirchesis and what happened to him. He got so close and the situation that led to his death was so bullshit (but not ‘bad writing’ bullshit, understandable but annoying character decisions bullshit). But does set up Reinhard for the inevitable fall after he achieves success. Am also a little confused about the earth cult stuff who appear to maybe have a lot of behind-the-scenes power on both sides but that will presumably be built upon in future seasons.

Watashi, Nouryoku wa Heikinchi de tte Itta yo ne!

This show had a really fun premise (based on statistics!) and was also an isekai with a female lead. But while it started pretty fun, it got pretty same-y as theWatashi, Nouryoku wa Heikinchi de tte Itta yo ne! episodes progressed. The four girls in the party were interesting but didn’t have a whole lot of interesting development beyond becoming better friends. Even with an arc dedicated to each character that went through fairly tropey stuff (one character had family killed by bandits while young, one character was a runaway from rich family fighting against gender stereotypes, one was being forced into an arranged marriage but man who’d killed father and taken over family/business). And there was a lot of stuff that was inconsistent- like in an early ep the MC does some magic and creates with ease the apparent fourth sharpest object in existence as her friends sword. And then that and it’s very interesting potential consequences are never touched on again and it basically functions as a normal sword.

Kandagawa Jet Girls

This was not a good show and what I did is probably not even counted as watching. Basically I’d download the uncensored version and skip through to Kandagawa Jet Girlsfind how often it showed tits and for how long. That being said the opening scene of a shot of a sign that said ‘cow crossing’ which then panned to a train crossing where the MC with massive boobs was crossing was a great visual gag. Otherwise the story was based around a non-sensical sport and the characters were cardboard cut outs. Although there was a chubby girl who’s level of chubbiness and size of insane tits changed with every shot she appeared in. So wasn’t exactly good/consistent art or animation. Was hoping for a repeat of the surprise greatness of Keijo! but no luck.

Mix- Meisei Story

This may have technically been a previous season but I only finished it this Mixseason. It was a fine/solid sport anime. Which given this is the third time the author had done the exact same story isn’t a surprise. Was a bit surprised about the final few baseball games turned out and also surprised that the show ended on 25 episodes. Also the sound mixing was god awful, the character voices are so quiet it’s hard to hear even with the volume turned to the max. Aside from that it’s a decent show to half watch while doing other things.

Reincarnated as a Slime OAD 1

Not as bad as OAD 2 but still not great. Just a random little story about Slime-boy dreaming about introducing sumo to his city/nation and shit getting out of hand. A lot of ‘sexy’ shots of the various girls in sumo gear. Meh

Psychopass- Sinners of the System 1 + 2 + 3 and S3

With the 3rd season of the show starting this season and me riding the high of the S1 rewatch I decided to water the inter-quel movie trilogy set between S2 and S3. They were fine. Each one was a different pairing of detective+enforcerPsycho-Pass: Sinners of the System Case.2 - First Guardian set at different times relative to the timeframe- one pre S1, one post S1 and one post-S2 ( think). The stories themselves were self-contained and generally fine but I think each of the three introduced one small piece of info that could be important for going forward- like someone knowing a piece of information or something leaving one location to get to another. Honestly I’m not sure what could have been done with this as the only good part of this show has been S1 with the Akane+Kogame pairing and without that pairing it’s kind of bad (or very bad). But that pairing begins with S1 Ep1 and ends with the S1 finale so there literally isn’t any extra time periods of them working together than can be explored.

Which then leads into S3. I watched one and a half eps and just couldn’t make myself give a shit about an entirely new case of characters. Especially with the double length episodes and the only character I recognise suddenly gone from junior detective (in S2) to completely in charge in S3 with not explanation in the interquel movie focused on her.. So I’ve put S3 on hold and will see if I can ever be bothered to go back to it, which given I’ve not gone back to Index S3 is not looking very likely

Unwatched

(Noting that I guess Psychopass S3 should be here but whatever)

Babylon

This started out with a pretty interesting first episode of a cool murder-mystery thing but it then quickly devolved into a complete mess between a) the introduction of convoluted magic elements e.g. a woman who used her magical prettiness to hypnotize men into doing what they want and b) an absolutely fucked release schedule

Ahiru no Sora

This was probably a pretty solid school sports anime in its own right but I just couldn’t care about it. From the first episode I could map out the whole arc- the idealist new kid who had talent and a crazy work ethic (spending four hours a night shooting hoops) will reform each of the delinquents who had previous played basketball but dropped it in highschool for *reasons*. And they’d then do well enough in some sort of interschool comp.

No Guns No Life

One of my mates loved this show but I couldn’t really see what the fuss was about. It had an adult version of FMA’s Winry and the MC was kind of like Alphonse and a sort of interesting concept/world but that’s where the good stuff ends. In the first arc the MC takes responsibility of a kid in some fucking long low circumstances and then the art/animation take a huge dip in quality (and not from a particularly high starting point). And I’m just not a big enough fan of the hard-boiled-detective genre for me to bother to keep watching.

Ore wo Suki nano wa Omae dake ka yo

This was another one that a mate really fucking liked and while I got it to a point (five episodes worth which is quite a lot for something I ended up dropping). But while I recognised it was funny, it really just struck me as a less good version of Gamers! (which itself only had a good first half and then dropped off a cliff). The highly repetitive cycle of the MC having each beautiful person come inches away from confessing to him then left turning into a confession for his best friend was, well, repetitive. Then that best friend actively and publicly “dogging” him leads to everyone turning against the MC for no coherent reason. Then enter the true female lead (a library-nerd-student who hides her incredible hotness with glasses and chest binders…) stalks the MC and uses blackmail and convoluted trickery to get everyone back on side. And there is a recurring gag about a magic park bench that gets nonsensical almost immediately. Worse still the MC is the ultimate combination of a character with no backbone when things are unfairly against him and no compassion for when anything nice/good does happen.

Haoukago Saikoro Club

The third in the trilogy of shows a friend really likes but I didn’t, this one is a about a group of school girls getting into boardgames. I’m not really a fan of boardgames but I’m told that all the games they play are real (and presumably fun). Upon quizzing the people who do like this show, it honestly seems to just be that they like recognising real boardgames not only being actively played but also in shots of the shelves of the shop they hang out it. Needless to say, not much of a reason to be into a show. I guess they’re meant to be cute girls doing cute things so if you like that much more than me then maybe this show has some additional appeal. It seems to have an interesting trick where there are three main characters and then a fourth person rotates in each ep to have even numbers for a game and introduce a bit of variety into character dynamics (while still technically developing the fairly tropey main three girls). Also the number of people they run in to who seem to not even be aware of the concept of boardgames and overreact to every little thing gets a bit tired.

Mugen no Juunin – Immortal

This reminds me of Dororo where I would probably like this show if I managed to hit it with the right combination of ‘old style art and pacing is good’ and ‘enough free time to risk wasting on a potentially mediocre show’. Lots of samurai fights and gore with some supernatural elements mixed in. With an unkillable samurai maybe going on a journey with a young lady seeking revenge on the people who murdered her family. If you’re into that stuff give it a crack I reckon. Although would probably be a safer bet to just rewatch Samurai Champloo.

Mairimashita! Iruma-kun

An odd comedy, apparently it’s really good but something about it just didn’t click. Some random kid is sold to a demon by his parents and the demon wants the kids to become his son. Gets sent to demon school even though he’s a human. Hi-jinks ensue as he has to protect his identity but turns out to be quite powerful (German suplexes an honour student accidentally while being attacked and earns his subordination, does a ritual to bind a lesser demon to him and accidentally binds a teacher to him). Eh. Not for me. Art/animation looked a bit off too.

Fate Grand Order – Absolute Demonic Front Babylonia

The only connection this has to the original Fate story is that one of the girls looks like Rin Tohsaka (leading to a funny image of the character going ‘I don’t need to introduce myself coz you know who I am’). Otherwise it was very, very unexciting and boring. I think it’s also like the 5th or 8th arc of something of the Fate Grand Order story so like, shit doesn’t really make sense.

Phantasy Stay Online 2- Episode Oracle

An interesting meta show where it is adapting the story of a real game where the previous Phatasy Star Online 2 anime was about people playing that game. Unfortunately it’s a pretty generic ‘let’s fight space aliens’ thing. Better off watching Yamato 2199 or Starship Troopers.

Rifle is Beautiful

Cute girls doing cute things, where the cute girls aren’t that cute due to very cheap CGI/animation and the cute thing is a weird version of laser tag. Coz using real guns would be insane and I guess airsoft is out of fashion. Very bad.

Shin Chuuka Ichiban

A remake or sequel to some show form like the 90s no-one had heard about or cared about since the 90s. In a post Shougeki no Soma world this was a very bland cooking based show.

(Also I should add that I didn’t even both watching S4 of Soma or S3/S4 of My Hero Academia, can’t remember which one it is up to, because I just don’t care about those shows anymore. And by all accounts the original Soma story takes a massive nosedive at the point S4 covers.

Azur Lane

An even worse version of Kancolle than Kancolle. I think this one is China ripping off the “concept” that is Kancolle

Choyoyu

Isekai tropes to the extreme but instead of having one OP as fuck MC this one has seven. Who are all the “best” at something. Some of them make sense- best inventor or best business man (although best businessman is apparently worth like 1/3 of the global economy of something ludicrous). But others are just insipidly stupid- the leader is the “world best politician” (which is apparently a good thing) and was re-elected as Japan’s Prime Minister at the age of 16. So do some math for when he was initially elected. And they revolutionise the world that they come to- I think by the end of the serious they’ve invented nuclear weapons in the fantasy world (and one of them is the bets fighter who outruns ICBMs and deflects them with her hands or some shit.) Garbage tier shit.

Chuubyou Gekihatsu Boy

Highschool boy has delusions of grandeur as a Chuunibyou. Fuck me Japan you need to stop encouraging this shit, people need to grow out of this stuff before they finish primary school. Unwatchable.

Kono Oto Tomare S2

I started watching S2 coz I watched S1 and generally sequels of things I watched are automatic watches. Then I remember about 10 seconds in that I had to force myself to finish S1 so stopped. Just do not care for the characters or the story that had been set up.

Val x Love

Like Kandagawa Jet Girls, a bare semblenc eof  aplot used to display “hot” anime girls naked. unfortunately it’s prodyction values and art style was vastly inferior to Jet Girls (which I must point out were not good outside of the nudity scenes either). In this one the plot-specific-weird-looking MC has to fondle and grope and such the nine Valkyries to awaken thier powers and fight monsters. On Odin’s request. With school hi-jinks and misunderstandings thrown in as the MC is a weirdo (for plot/wordl building reasons I guess) and the Valkyries each have a different feeling/opinion of the guy which range from adoration to repulsion. Ugh

ZX – Code Reunion

After watching two eps I discovered this was a sequel to some random show I’d never heard of. Was super generic ‘cute girls are weapons and partner with other cute-girl-weapons to fight alien invaders’. Boring.

Try Knights

I believe this was from an earlier season but I only saw ep1 this season. Is not good- poorly animated rugby (and generally poor animation) and a paper thing plot propped up by pretty boys.

Urashimasakatasen no Nichijou

Some short about a group of male idols going to school. Apparently it has some funny moments but meh. Idol stuff is always a high risk, low reward proposition.

Actors – Songs Connection

Male Idols forming a group at school. Hard pass.

Stand my Heroes- Pieces of the Truth

A bad reverse harem masquerading as a cop drama where they’re in a narcotics squad and the MCs primary character trait is she is immune to drugs. Cool.

Special 7- Special Crimes Investigation Unit

Another cop drama, apparently that was the theme for this season, that was super super bland. Literally nothing worth commenting on that was especially good or bad.

Kabukicho Sherlock

This one wasn’t technically a cop drama, it was a detective story. Where there is a young cop (I think?) following about an absolute weirdo detective who people call Sherlock. Boring and painful to watch.

Africa no Salaryman

An interesting art style which doesn’t offset the lackluster animation, characters, story or world. Is basically just a typical office sitcom but they’re animals. Meh. Even worse than Aggretsuko.

Null Peta

A short about a weird kid scientist who made a robot with her dead sisters brain/mind/memory who goes on funny escapades. Meh, not as good as the concept sounds.

Gym Extras

As with several recent seasons, I’ve started using my iPad to watch/rewatch shows available on local streaming services to get the the monotony of physical exercise. Depending on what exactly I’m doing, I can get through between 2-5 episodes a session which means I can really burn through shows while burning through calories. Highly recommend it to other nerds who don’t like exercise- hit the gym at 10pm at night with your iPad/tablet when it’s near empty!

Rewatches

Hai to Gensou no Grimgar

This is a fantastic isekai that borderlines in not being an isekai- if they didn’t occasiaonlly mention after ep1 that they are from another world and all their memories had faded then you’d forget it was isekai. In this show it is a very grimdark fantasy world where people/young kids just appear and then are gang-pressed into fighting monsters in the area in order to be able to afford to Hai to Gensou no Grimgarsurvive. And to further the twist, the group of people we follow are the rejects who weren’t picked from the batch of people who emerged to form the strong party. As such they struggle a lot- at one point there are serious discussions about how they can’t afford a second set of underwear and how the boys deal with it (wearing wet after washing, going commando, patching up repeatedly etc)… followed by unanswered questions about how the girls deal with it XD. Then (spoilers) their party leader (and healer and tank and strategist) dies and they have to deal with the PTSD of that while also dealing with trying to fit in a new healer in the party who is themselves dealing with their own trauma. Fantastic world that is build, excellent characters and their development makes for some fantastic arcs in the show. My only criticism (aside from there not being a S2) is that in the final arc they are raiding an abandoned 10 level mine complex infested with Kobolds and for some reason I got it in my head that it would have been cool if they destroyed/damaged the smelter thing on level 3 (or 5?) and thus unleashed a river of magma that destroyed the level and everything (and all the kobolds) below it. Dunno why but the set up in the mine struck me as one of those places where utilsiing a trick/function of the environment of the encounter could get you some serious benefits (like shooting an explosive barrel in an FPS or using a shortcut in a racing game). But it didn’t happen. And even with that incredibly minor and personal nitpick, I heartily recommend this show

Ore Monogatari

Damn this show is so cute and fantastic. Watching the ginormous/obvious Takeo and the tiny/timid Yamato meet each other and fall in love and go through the first steps and months of being in a relationship was so good. Like Ore Monogatari!!when they should hold hands and what to do to celebrate birthdays and having mixers for their friends. A fantastic mix of comedy and romance. Would often have an enormous grin and be struggling not to make “squee” sounds in the gym as I made my way through this series. The show also does a good job mixing up the overall story of Takeo+Yamada with the bromance between Gouda and Sunakawa and a variety of other relationships. And the unexpected pregnancy and how that goes was SO good. Although some of the secondary relationship stories were a bit lackluster- in particular the one that formed between their friends Saijou and Kuirhara was painful as Kurihara was a coward and a moron. And the final arc of Yamato’s work senior at the cake shop trying to win her heart by guilting her into helping him with a competition was a bit uncomfortable and also felt a bit jammed into the end of the season. That being said I cannot recommend this show highly enough, is excellent. (And also not at all related to the Monogatari series so don’t be concerned about that!)

Chihayafuru S1 + S2

In the lead up to S3 this season (which is still on going and also fantastic) I decided to rewatch S1 and S2. And they are also fantastic. It tells the story of Chihaya discovering the sport/game of karuta at a young age and then gaining an incredible passion for it that drives her to become the best in the world… dragging high school friends a long the way through a school club. Then it spins out from Chuhaya to look into the lives of everyone she comes across- even people who are merely opponents for half an episode get surprisingly detailed stories and motivations (Also this description of the shows premise does not really do it justice). Of particular note in this show is Chihayafuruhow fucking beautiful everything looks- in particular in early S1 there was a scene where Chihaya and Taichi were at a train station and I was shocked at how this show from 2011 looked so much better than stuff being made today. Related to that is how beautiful Chihaya is- it’s incredibly how they have made her into an incredibly stunning to look at female character but in a way that absolutely does not oversexualise her. Or sexualise her at all. I presume this is because the original manga is, I believe, aimed at a female and/or older audience than your typical anime show. But more important that either of those two things is how nuanced and realistic every single goddamn character is and how they use karuta and the school club to not only deal with problems but also discover how to enjoy things. Every character has a purpose and has an arc where they develop in a meaningful way both as themselves and in relation to others. Even the new characters inserted in S2 serve to elevate those inter-person relationships. Then on top of this the way it shows the game/sport/competition of karuta is with Haikyuu levels of excellent sport animation, tension, music etc. By the end of S1 I was legitimately thinking about whether it would be possible to learn to play karuta myself it looks/feels so cool. Despite not speaking a word of Japanese. I cannot heap enough praise on this show and I don’t really want to say more as it’ll need spoilers and I think people should watch this show unspoiled to experience it’s pure joy.

Rokka no Yuusha

I’m actually a little surprised I rewatched this show- I had very strong memories of how the original watch went: great start, slow drop off and terrible half-finished ending. But for some reason I decided to give it another crack and I’m really glad I did. Don’t get me wrong- the ending is still terrible. The premise of the show is that on a small island to the west of the main continent lives some all powerful demon and every 300 years it tries to invade the continent. And seven warriors are chosen as braves to fight back and slay it. By the end of the series, we’ve literally only gotten to the point where the 6 heroes have gotten to the narrow land bar that connects the continent to the demon island. So it’s a prequel. And I say ‘6 heroes’ even though are 7 of them and presumably one is an imposter. Which is extremely annoying because we spent the previous 8 episodes or so already ferreting out a 7th/imposter so this is the 8th/potential-second-imposter. But putting that long caveat aside, Rokka no Yuushadoing the rewatch I found that the show was actually really good and interesting all the way up to that end. Is a good mix of fantasy, action and detective story as the MC (Adlet, self-proclaimed strongest man in the world) tries to figure out what led to them getting trapped the way they do. While trying to not die as he is framed as being the imposter. The characters are all quite interesting (like the strongest one is a 14 year old girl with the power of swamps). Also knowing how the mystery is solved there are some fantastic little seeds/red flags in early episodes for those paying attention- both for who did it but how they did it (e.g. two comments made by Adlet about the temperature at different times). Also this is another nitpick along the lines of Grimgar; but they establish that the demon forces are unable to cross over water and can only access the continent via a single land bar. Then we learn that the human forces have prepared a trap that will block off the landbar with powerful fog magic… but they don’t activate it immediately because they want the heroes to get past first. Thus letting the demon vanguard forces reap havoc across the land. Motherfucker humans have boats. Raise that fog barrier immediately and permanently and let the heroes cross via boat. If at all- can also just leave the demons to their own devices and internal squabbles. Ugh.

My Little Monster

I remember loving this show when it came out and how much of an awesome banger the OP song is. On the rewatch, only one of those things is true- the OP Tonari no Kaibutsu-kunrocks. The show itself is actually really problematic and bad. Lets get the obvious out of the way- the male lead Haru is an emotionally manipulative and physically abusive person who uses Shizuku’s personality and self-confidence issues to force her into a romantic relationship. It’s fucked. Secondly, this show is made up almost entirely of unresolved plot threads. Literally the last episode/arc is spent talking about how Shizuku and Haru will go on a picnic (which came about because Shizuku had to bribe Haru to stop stalking her to cram school and fighting any boys she talked to…). But the picnic never happens. Also her friend (eventually) Natsume confesses to Haru’s guardian Mitsuyoshi on New Years day and we don’t see how that resolves itself (I mean, he obviously rejects her but the fall out is never seen or addressed despite it happening mid-season. There’s also vaguely alluded to violence relatedfamily drama for Haru and childhood drama for Shizuku related to a dad with bad business acumen and an overworked mother that don’t go anywhere. And a bunch of other one-sided romances (at least three) that are not dealt with properly or resolved. Sure the comedy in the show is generally fun on a surface level but when the character drama comes to the forefront pretty much everyone is a bad person but they’re presented as if they’re meant to be good people. Really, really disappointing coming back to this show.

New Shows

Aggretsuko

I’ve heard heaps of great things about this show but I don’t get what the fuss is. Sure office politics such shit but the novelty of Retsuko going home and screaming about it via death metal karaoke is, well, not really that interesting to watch. If you want a legitimately funny comedy about dealing with the bs life of working in an office, watch Officespace instead. I think I got through maybe 2 episodes before it become clear that there wasn’t anything great about this show.

Azumanga Daoih 

I was really worried about giving this show a go because it is so old that a) the subtitles are those shitty yellow ones that are hard to read and b) it’s a ‘foundational comedy’ of modern anime so most of the things it’s done well Azumanga Daiohhave presumably since been done better by something else (see- Love Hina). I was way off- this show was fantastic. Is an ensemble cast of highschool girls growing up through highschool and having the typical adventures- dealing with homework, summer trips, making friends, exams, dealing with changes at the start of each year, thinking about university and careers etc. Interestingly there was a real big focus on the class teacher Yukari-sensei and her colleague Kurosawa-sensei as they dealt with their lives as young adults, seeing the kids grow up, dealing with school events and politics from the teachers view. I really wish that angle was included in modern versions of this show rather than the teacher (and school work) just being an absent thing who may occasionally ask for career surveys. My only knock on the show is that another teacher, Kimura, is a pervert and borderline pedophile with the comedy he gets so that hasn’t aged well. Everything else has- from Chiyo dealing with being a prodigy who is three years younger (and a whole meter smaller) than everyone else (with some really touching scenes as she considers who pre-school friends who are just starting middleschool) to Sakaki as the quiet, withdrawn girl with a huge passion for cute things to Kasuga who is a thick, slow idiot from Osaka (with an accent to go with it) to Tomo as the energetic moron to Koyomi and her weight struggles. Plus more. I’d call them kind of at times tropey but really they are the prototypes from which one-dimensional tropes were distilled. But the best moment of the show was the finale where they graduated and left school and moved to the next stage of their lives, I was bawling my eyes out (even though this show is a comedy) because it felt like I’d actually gone to school with them and seen them grow over the course of three years. Which really struck me as something that doesn’t happen now- having an anime that actually finishes (Bokuben S2 being an ironical exception given it’s timing). At best we get a closed arc with the promise of more stories to come, often it’s a barely concealed advert to go buy the light novel or manga. Which really undermines the quality of anime as a medium- it’s hard for something to be truly great and become a classic if it is fundamentally unfinished.

Demon Slayer

I think I dropped this show last season but basically got nagged into submission and made to pick it up again. I was assured there was a fantastic Kimetsu no Yaibaand beautifully animated fight around episode 18. And I’m sure it was- my iPad from 2012 just wasn’t able to give it its full glory. That being said I did finish the show, finding the last third more consistently good that the middle third which really dragged for me. In particular I really liked the post-mountain arc where we got to see the three guys recover and get trained by/with Shinobu and Kanao. Like I found the scene where Zenitsu turned the ‘torture training’ on it’s head by being a bit of a perv by embracing getting beaten up by pretty girls quite funny. And the scene where Tanjiro helped Kanao move past her coin flip thing and help her embrace her own agency was great. Conversely I found the nine Hashira mostly over-the-top and thus quite annoying and the very last episode was a complete waste of time- only barely acceptable wheelspinning due to both a movie and a second season being announced. While the show is much better than other intensely popular shows (One Piece, Attack on Titan, SAO etc) I cannot fathom why this one in particular shot to that level of popularity. Nothing about it is particularly interesting or novel or great.

Gabriel Dropout

I’m fairly sure that I watched about ten seconds of this when it aired and dropped it as terrible garbage. Having now very much enjoyed it, I think that Gabriel DropOutwas an overreaction. This show is about two angels and two demons who are required to go to human highschool. And Gabriel is one of those titular angels but she has fallen- due to the influence of videogames. The other angel Raphiel is a masochist, one demon Satania is an incompetent moron and the last demon Vignette is a legitimately nice and fantastic person. Sure the four of them are pretty stereotypical cute girls doing cute things characters in anime but the show is really entertaining. The constant manipulations of Satania by Raphiel are always funny (like when Satania “cleverly” wears her swimsuit under her clothes to the beach only to find she has nothing dry to wear on the return trip) to Vignette’s nice behaviour being undercut by Gabriel as she tries to skate by on the thinnest possible margin to maximise her time playing videogames. The side characters are a bit hit and miss (the cafe owner is a hit, the student president is a miss, Tapris is both at different times) but add fun dynamics to the main quartet. There isn’t really much of a plot to speak of but that’s not the point of this sort of show- it is very funny and that’s all it needs. Highly recommend.

Inou-Battle wa Nichijou-kei no Naka de

I’m not sure how many times I’ve tried this show, it has to be at least 3 or 4. Inou-Battle wa Nichijou-kei no Naka deBut a good friend insists it’s great and I guess this must just be evidence that they are an idiot. I got up to episode 3 or 4 but then it had some comedy gold where a half (maybe entirely) naked teenager accidentally is forced by a middle schooler to sort of molest both her and/or a friend of hers in the arc where they are dealing with the middle schooler not having friends her own age and I just couldn’t take it. It really doesn’t help that the MC guy is a chuunibyou and the existence of these powers justifies his idiotic world view. Apparently this is actually a show about friendship and such but I just can’t force myself to watch it up until ~ep7 where is apparently gets really, really good.

Blend S

Now this is definitely a show I watched about 10 seconds of and then dropped for being garbage. And I was probably being too harsh- expecting substance Blend Sfrom a show where the premise is maids being tropes while working at a cafe. But once I got past the very shakey opening scenes, the comedy started landing and the characters started being endearing. The weird relationship building between the manager (and adult) and MC Maika (a first year-ish high school student) is weird and not acceptable. Also the character Mio who is introduced quite late in the series felt a bit forced (a fujioshi archetype) but the way she was introduced (as a customer who left behind her lewd drawing folder) led to some really fun character dynamics (Maika and the other “innocent” staff being denied access to see what was in the book, the rest of the staff trying to figure out how they could advertise the book had been found in a discreet way etc). But the rest of it is pretty great, including a somewhat unexpected relationship that developed between the quasi-maitredee Kaho and the chef Akizuki over their love of videogames. A surprisingly good show given how I wrote it off initially- maybe it’s just my standards are lowered when I fry my brain on the treadmill.

Kids on the Slope

For some reason I thought that Arakawa Under the Bridge and Kids on the Slope were the same show. Where one of the two names was a subtitle. I haveSakamichi no Apollon no idea where I got that from but I went in expecting a Cowboy Bebop or Space Dandy sort of show (which I acknowledge is a very vast spectrum) and got something completely unexpected. I have a passing interest in music but even so found this a really good self-discovery-coming-of-age story with these characters in an era of Japanese live we rarely see covered in anime (as the 1970s are neither present day or the Warring States Period). Especially as it uses changes in music genre popularity to mirror the changing dynamics of post-WWII Japan. The female lead Ritsuko was perhaps a touch underdeveloped compared the male leads Kaoru and Sentaro but the three of them form a really believable trio and a nexus of the convoluted high school romance dynamic involving their high school senior and an older alumni/jazz comrade that is so very realistic it hurts. While also dealing with things like broken families and rejecting parents and betrayal by friends. The way it all ends was quite surprising too- while it was happy it certainly wasn’t the perfect resolution of everyone’s feelings that I expected it would be.

Digimon Adventure Tri

I remember being a big fan of Digimon as a kid and couldn’t believe I hadn’t seen the new movies even though they came out years ago. Then I started Digimon Adventure tri. 1: Saikaiwatching them and realised that while I certainly enjoyed watching Digimon, it had not really penetrated my childhood viewing habits like DBZ or Pokemon had. To the point that, really thinking about it, while I have seen the original Digimon movie (a Frankenstein’s monster of an English adaptation of three different OVAs/movies) I doubt that I saw much more than 10 or so episodes of the very first arc of adventure. And those had been well over a decade go, closer to two decades. So watching sequel movie meant that there was a whole lot of presumed knowledge I did not have. What’s worse was that I’d watched the English dub (obviously) so I did not know any of the characters Japanese names. So I have no idea who the fuck anyone was talking about if they referred to someone not on screen. Meaning that I didn’t have any nostalgia goggles to get me through a pretty uneventful and glacially paced first movie/OVA. In addition, the sound mixing for this was fucked and even at max volume on the iPad I could barely make out any of the voices or sounds if I was standing still. Which means if I was doing any movements (e.g. lifting weights or jogging or whatever) the noise of the the equipment drowned out the anime. As did the ambient noise of anyone within 5m of me. I basically ended up dropping this for these audio issues when I started the second OVA/movie (unsure what they officially are called these days) and the sound was still broken. Very disappointing.

Western TV

Friday Night Lights S1

I’ve heard people gush about this being a fantastic show for ages. I couldn’t get through the second episode the pacing was so glacially slow. It is an Friday Night Lights title card.pngensemble piece about a small town and it’s highschool football team (which is the only thing the town appears to have going for it) where there are a dozen different narratives going on and none of them is necessarily the “main” one. So I suspect that if one can overcome the lack of any clear hook to begin with then there would be some great long term viewing value. But I just couldn’t keep my attention on it. I think a large part of this was the fact that I don’t know jack shit about how gridiron/American Football work (actually I’m not even 100% sure that grid iron and American football are definitely the same game). And from what is shown in the show it looks like a boringly simple game, with what I feel is the worst part of sports (the overzealous fandom) as a key feature of the show. Maybe I’ll give this show another crack one day because I just can’t believe how starkly different my opinion/feelings were watching this show compared to what I had heard.

The Shield S01

I watched The Shield years ago and found it to be such a fantastic show. In particular I’d say it’s the only show from the early 2000s era that definitely TheShieldTitle.JPGstarts great and then gets better every season. And has decisions/actions from literally episode 1 of S1 having consequences on the finale in S7. Incredibly long term story structure and character arcs. I was home sick from work but couldn’t sleep and after listening to a podcast that mentioned how well crafted the pilot of The Shield was decided to watch it. And then marathoned the rest of the season. It is a great cop drama looking at the workings of a police station from all levels and with different dramas- the Captain and his growing political ambitions as a Latin American man in an African American dominated constituency. The elite strike team who are corrupt to the core and effectively running the drug distribution networks. A pair of senior detectives who investigate some really nuanced cases including a multiple episode arc about a serial killer (which was novel when it first aired) plus a pair of on the beat cops who are struggling in their partnership as the junior one won’t cop to the cultural hazing and shit while also wrestling with his homosexuality as a pious black christian. And all these characters and their arcs intersect and interrelate in a really compelling way. Fantastic television, really want to rewatch the rest of the show now.

Barry S02

I wasn’t s super big fan of Barry S01 but I found myself on a plane where there was nothing else of interest to watch so I decided to give this a crack. And I Barry logo.svgfound this fucking excellent. The way the tension builds in each episode is great as things slowly spiral out of control for Barry as he tries to keep the drama class play happening, avoid the police investigation around Moss’ disappearance/death and manage the Chechen mafia and their relations with the other crime groups (Bolivian and Burmese). Of particular awesomeness is a fight scene mid-season between Barry and a martial art expert which starts in the dude’s house when Barry tries to knock him off and then ends in a supermarket. But then through some well orchestrated/convenient circumstances Barry not only gets away with it but eliminates the cop who can connect him to the underworld activities. Then the final action piece of Barry mowing through the various underworld figures/goons, especially the Chechens as it both builds on and undercuts earlier episode character moments where Barry had trained up the Chechens. Plus through the lucky use of a particular bullet manages to stave off move powerful underworld figures who decide to leave Hank in charge. While at the same time this is happening, we get to learn across the series more about Barry’s history including the story of how he first killed (very effectively) and a constantly evolving/changing story about the actions that led to his discharge from the marines (starts off good for Barry, ends very bad for Barry). As with S1, the weakest part of the season was the Sally stuff- she’s still incredibly shallow and not a good actor (Barry accidentally gets cast in a bigger role than shes getting in TV stuff) and it is implied that she makes up a story about being abused by an ex-partner to try further her career. For meta reasons that’s a very problematic story to tell given the trouble real abuse victims have in being believed, peddling an alternative view is a bit icky. Also the Barry-Fuches stuff and how it evolves (mainly through Fuches betraying Barry, or at least trying to, and then coming crawling back with schemes to get Barry out of unrelated trouble) is fantastic to watch. A fantastic black comedy, the quality of S2 completely overrides my mixed feelings on S1.

Romper Stomper S1

Having not seen the movie I wasn’t sure if I would be able to get into this. But from what I can tell the movie content adds an extra layer to the TV show, Romper Stomper title card.pngwhich is a really good stand alone. I must admit I watched the first half of the show on an airplane about 2 years ago so I don’t really remember much detail. Was good enough for me to want to watch more but not enough to want to watch it immediately. In any event, as an overall package it was a fantastic show. The way it dealt with the racial tensions that are manifesting in Australia- from crazy neo-nazis to incompetent left wing uni students to slimy talk show hosts playing it up for ratings had an ominous feeling of realness to it. I’ve been a big fan of Lachy Hume (conspiracy theories aside)  since his appearances on The Hollowmen (TV) and Get This (radio) in the mid-2000s and what he does with his character is great. As what happens to his character. The ending was also really good and would have been a shock if I hadn’t managed to spoil myself looking up cast info on Wikipedia. In particular I loved how everything just spiraled out of control went wrong for every character across all sides of the argument (politicians, left leaning uni anti-fascists, the Muslim advocates, right wing nut jobs, the sociopath leading the nut jobs, the weird chick in love with the sociopath and the cop who had been monitoring the whole thing) in the lead up to the final event. Really compelling but also distressing television.

Banshee S1

Got recommended this show ages ago and while it maybe dragged in places it was a really fun premise. Basically a bloke goes to jail after stealing a bunch of TV series - Banshee Title Card.jpgdiamonds and once he’s released he goes looking for his ex-partner and lover who mad eoff with the diamonds. Turns out she’s now married with kids. And as the con leaves the town he happens to run into the soon-to-arrive sheriff who is killed by a couple punks. So the con (who’s name we never learn) takes on this guys identity. Is a bit of a dated premise as in today’s world there’s no fucking way you could get away with that shit in a country that has widespread adoption of social media. But is interesting to see when the “law man” of the town is in fact a criminal and has no scruples dishing out violence to those who screw with him or the town. The main villain is an exiled Amish business man who is a very nuanced character. There is also a gratuitous amount of nudity in the show, which gives it a huge production time stamp of “Game of Thrones is big, lets add heaps of tits to our show!” and is kind of uncomfortable. But if you can get past that there is a really good show here and I marathoned the last couple eps coz they were that compelling. Will get around to watching S2 one day.

Amazing Race Australia S01/S04

This is the second time I’ve written up my thoughts on this show but my fucking browser decided to force me to sign in in order to save the draft version and promptly lost the draft version. So I’m going to be brief- this was shit house. The only good points were the diverse casting of people from all different walks of Australian life (footy mates from Melbourne, black nurses, young wogs, asian brother and sister, indigenous territorians, newly wed gay lumberjacks, retired firefighters etc) and the host Beau who honestly was terrible to begin with but then slowly grew on me as the show progressed (good decision by production to do what they did with Aus Survivor and get a very different host to the US version who could then take bits of the US style as the show progressed). Otherwise this was garbage. Several different reasons. Firstly is that, compared to Survivor, the show concept is way simpler with teams not really able to affect each other and luck playing a huge role in how well or poorly a team does. Secondly, in this budget iteration by Channel 10 (S01 of this specific iteration, S04 of all versions of Aus Amazing Race) the issues were even worse- like they only did Aus-Asia-Africa-Aus for the ‘race around the world’ so they missed huge chunks of the world and spent a lot of time in similar/the same places. Then one team (Tom and Tyler) won 8 of the first 10 legs and didn’t win any prizes… in fact the only two legs with prizes were the ones they didn’t win. Or maybe they got like $500 for one of their wins. Whatever it was, it was a pittance compared to the US versions prizes. Even worse was how little each teams arrival time in each leg affected their start on the next leg. Regardless of when you checked in, you would leave 2 minutes after the team before you. Which meant that even with a dominate performances in a leg Tom and Tyler got no benefit on the next leg (ultimately getting some of those first places, of course, due to luck rather than skill). Although I guess that the lack of any ‘building’ advantage, combined with the lack of international flight bottlenecks, made Tom and Tyler’s winning streak even more impressive (in particular the leg where they slept in and thus started off last by a significant margin and still end up coming in 1st place). Also the Speed Bumps following non-elimination legs were barely nuisances, let alone actual challenges. But by far the worst thing about this show was the fucked production interference. In ep1 they planted a fake clue that send one team on a five hour detour to the wrong place and resulted in them being eliminated by miles. But in the second last leg (the 11th) Tom and Tyler were eliminated in the most bullshit way possible. The producers decided to spring a a ‘U Turn vote’ with four teams left. And to no-one surprise they three other teams make Tom and Tyler do both parts of the detour. So there is a great scene (sarcasm btw) where T&T are crushing it so hard they finish the first part of the detour before other teams have even got to the detour to make a choice. Then find out they have to go do the other one and know they’re fucked. But then even though they have to do the extra activity, they still only lose by about 30-60 seconds to the team who came third (and one might even note that in the very last activity, “painting” a statue with gold foil, T&Ts statue was painted at a much, much higher standard of quality before being “signed off” as acceptable than Team #2 or #3s when they were all painting concurrently…). This was bullshit enough because of how much a u-turn at this stage fucks things over- with only 4 teams in it is a) very easy for the best performing/”most deserving” team to be targeted in the way it happen and b) it’s also insanely easy for there to be a tie vote (two teams getting 2 votes or every team getting one vote). And unlike U-Turns earlier on, being so late in the game means that it is very unlikely for a bad enough team to still be left in the race who completes one task in the time it takes another team to complete two (and travel between them). Not to mention the fact that the point of a U-Turn is that it is a thing a team imposes on another team behind them in the race by getting to a specific location first. So it’s a risk-reward on keeping someone behind you that is awarded/offered to teams as a prize based on how well they are doing. Doing it as a vote means there is no risk-all reward, and not voting for a T&T dominating team would be idiotic. And rather than rewarding good performances in the race it is penalising them. To add further insult to injury this happened to be the only u-turn in the season where it was a non-elimination leg. In the previous episodes the u-turns had just happened to be non-elimination legs- which makes a heap of sense from a TV production standpoint to try and heighten the tension of guaranteed “revenge” storylines for at least one episode (as the u-turn victim isn’t eliminated).  But this one was the only one where it was elimination- which I guess also make sense from a TV perspective because otherwise T&T would have cruised to victory in the finale given how much better they were than the other 3 teams. Speaking of which, the u-turn was particularly irksome to Australian eyes because two of the other three teams were “in an alliance” with T&T- they’d been helping each other on previous legs and voted together in a previous u-turn vote. And by “helping each other” I mean literally actions by T&T to give them answers and help were the only reason those other two teams hadn’t been eliminated. Then in the lead up to the vote one of the teams, Jasmine and Jerome, went up to T&T and said to their faces “We’re voting for Tim & Rod” (the 4th team who wasn’t in the alliance). So while it was the obvious and only gameplay move that could be made, it was clearly done in a backstabby way. Which lead to a very awkward elimination scene where J&J were team #3 and were standing 2 meters as T&T were eliminated. Which led to some awkward viewing as T&T tried, while obviously having a lot of emotional reactions to the bs of this leg, to artiuclate that they understood why they were u-turned but were really, really shitty that their allies had not only backstabbed them but had actively lied to their faces about it rather than just being honest and telling them that they were going to do it. Leading to J&J bursting into tears coz T&T were obviously having a go at them and the edit tried to portray them both negatively- J&J at traitors and T&T as sore losers. Fun fact I’ve learned in post-race media is that J&J’s lying to T&Ts faces had legitimately destroyed the budding friendship the two teams had built over the race (with T&T still being active friends with the other teams). I know I’ve complained in the past how in Amazing Race the “alliances” don’t really matter and so I should technically praise how they mattered here but it’s he wrong kind of matter. It didn’t matter gameplay wise, it mattered in the sense of characterising people as good or bad people outside of the game. Was so angry at the production bs that fucked this episode and thus the whole series that I didn’t bother watching the final. The Tim and Rod won the race, good on them. I hope I am one of many viewers who just skipped the finale and Channel 10 will see a noticeable drop in ratings sending the message to not do this shit again.

Survivor S39- Island of the Idols

Speaking of production things fucking a season of reality TV… to get it out the way, objectively speaking this is the worst season of Survivor ever because Survivor Island of the Idols logo.pngone player sexually assaulted (in terms of like, a legal definition) another player and the victim was voted out. And then the perpetrator was left in the game for ages afterwards but was then removed when he did the same thing to a crew member. There’s no way around it. Watching the Merge episode where this came to a head, without any clear content warnings, was very confronting and dark. And then the coverage afterwards up to and including the player’s forced removal in a post-tribal sequence in the last 2 minutes of the penultimate episode was equally fucked- from Survivor Production putting out a very sketchy story about them following appropriate processes in terms of protecting their players and giving “warnings” about behaviour to some of the fan community getting angry at the victim for standing up and making them have to confront the reality of the world rather than letting them have fun and harmless entertainment for an hour (shocking that reality TV might have some dark parts to it). The only redeeming feature was Survivor production falling on their sword and giving the victim the opportunity to speak and critisice them at the finale while then articulating all the things they are doing to prevent it happening again (which given their narrative at the Merge ep, I suspect only happened because of the fan backlash where they otherwise thought they’d done a good job of it). There is  perversely, academically fascinating part of it though where the amount of shit that they did include in the TV product all the way from ep 1 painting the perpetrator as a creep who didn’t respect personal boundaries was pretty clearly inoculating CBS/Survivor from being sued for defamation/libel by the guy. BUT putting aside that part, as a fan of Survivor if you can ignore that (which is possible given how much CBS actively underedited the perpetrator) the rest the season is surprisingly fantastic with the other 19 castaways being excellent characters. With really good character arc, big moves, good advantage/idol moments, major tribe and social dynamic changes, some cool challenge performances and twists. Arguably the pre-merge was one of the best pre-merges in years with all the stuff that happened. Like 3 or four people went home with idols in their pocket. And then the finale, the only post-merge ep without the problem guy, was also fantastic. It had only 5 people instead of the now standard 6 so each person got some great character moments. Plus we got an awesome old school clue hunt for idols (featuring a revelation of colour blindness and some funny lines), an incredible series of scenes about the fire-making challenge choices and fall out as people were forced to make fire. Then a pretty great Final Tribal too. And even better, the winner of the season had no advantages or idols (which was especially ironic given the theme of the season) AND was the only person who didn’t get a “lesson” from Rob and Sandra (who were made out to be be absolute idiots in the edit which is a crazy decision by production given how much they froth over those two in particular). Maybe it’s just that I went into this season with rock bottom expectations but I’d say that (aside from the sexual assault and it’s poor handling) this was possibly the best season out of the 30s. And I would legit like to see all 19 of the other players come back. Then again I am a big fan of Survivor Thailand which was won by a legit sociopath so… maybe I’m a bad judge of these things…

Summer Hermit 2019/2020 Bonus Watching

After the success of embracing a hermit lifestyle last year over the Christmas+New Year break; I was all guns blazing to do it again this year. And it was great. My original plan was to hit up the local streaming sites and work through the things I’ve bookmarked there. But then my landlord broke the home WiFi network and that was out of the picture. So instead I decided to work through the “Backlog” folder I have on my laptop and in doing so managed to clear out near 200GB worth of bluray quality anime. While also playing games and reading books and such.

So lets get into it:

Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica

So I remember this when it came out as it was literally the season where I was introduced to anime. And I remember how when it came out everyone was creaming themselves over it. So while I really enjoyed it at the time (and talk about the… good(?) timing of the tsunami disaster meaning that after the ep10 Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magicareveal there was a two week delay on the rest of the show airing) given how many other popular shows are actually kind of garbage (Attack on Titan, SAO etc) I always had some reservations in my mind about how good this was. Holy shit were those reservations un-warranted. From the opening scene this show fucking grabs you as something is ominously off-kilter and you can’t really place what. And the tension just keeps building and building but you have no real idea why (you know, ignoring that you already know what is going on if you’ve not been under a rock all decade). Doing the rewatch I was surprised that the big twist in ep3 with Mami wasn’t at the very end of the episode as that would have really made the impact there even greater. And even though I knew it was coming the reveal in ep10 with Homura it still brought a few tears to the eyes. Of particular note was the use of the changing in art style and the awesome music during the witch encounters that really drove the excellent direction this series had. Also fuck Kyubey is such a conniving and sneaky little cunt, always there with his offer to make things better as things spiral more and more out of control. And as an aside, Sayaka’s wish really frustrated me- not because she was “wasting” it on someone else but because she wasted it with such a narrow scope. Like “fixing his hands” is such a waste of an all-powerful wish, there are broader ones she could have used that would fix his injury and then have more benefits for him and her. There’s not much more I can really say without being spoilery and even though this is nearly a 10 year old show I don’t want to spoil it- if you haven’t seen this show it should definitely be on the shortlist. Interestingly, with it fresh in my mind I want to rewatch the sequel movie (Movie 3, with 1+2 being remakes of the TV series) to see if it is still as fucked as I remember at undercutting the entire point of the TV series. As it is, I included Madoka in my Top 10 of the 2010s and am very happy I did so.

Angel Beats!

Angel Beats is another show I caught as I was discovering anime and for some reason I didn’t include it in my top 10 of the 2010s list. After rewatching it I feel that was maybe a mistake. To jump all the way to the end, at the end of the Angel Beats!penultimate episode I got really angry that the titular Angel wasn’t included in the group photo that the ED played over. Then in the last episode they changed the photo to include her. And my god did I start crying. God this show pulled at the heartstrings. Although that being said, I found episode 10 way harder to watch than the finale- because I remember the finale. The episode 10 (semi) self-contained story fucking had me bawling my eyes out with the maybe real world romance between Yui and guy-with-blue-hair (Hinata?). Also given I remembered the ending of this show, the atrocious bullying that Angel suffers at the hands of the SSS is also quite heart breaking. That being said there were a few things I didn’t like about this on the rewatch. Mainly the last few eps were super rushed and felt like a last minute change of direction to finish the show in 1-cour rather than 2. Like the random introduction  of the evil shadow monsters almost right after the Otonashi+Angel plan to make people move on starts just didn’t fit with the show. Like it was poised to shift from an ‘us vs them’ battle of SSS and Angel to a ‘make peace with yourself’ battle. Where I could see each of the characters who make up the SSS getting an episode to deal with their own unique problems and then move on. Instead we get this weird computer programmer related story and half the SSS characters who we see from episode 1 just disappear off screen. In particular I felt bad fro the bloke-who-swung-an-axe because he clearly was in love with Yuri but that was never dealt with and then he got to disappear off-screen even though Yui got a full episodefocused her and was introduced 3 episodes after purple-axe-man. Also there was the surprisingly ripped nerd guy with glasses who was corrupted by the evil programmer shadow things and then his story is finished with a casual line of ‘oh yeah, he got better and then moved on with internal happiness to’. And there’s also a ninja girl who likes cute things and is kind o an idiot who doesn’t get developed beyond those dot points and then also disappears off screen. Basically the way they handled the secondary characters was so inconsistent that most of them got really short changed. Also I entirely forgot about the Vice President arc before the rewatch. And when doing my initial write up. Shows how much it mattered in the end. But again, the Vice-President is one of the final 5 people who gets a big emotional moment at the end despite not being around for like, the first half of the show and not being super necessary to anything. Also the OVAs were a bit of a let down after the emotional rollercoaster and torrent of sadness the ending brought. One was placed way back near the start of the series and was just a bit of fun that seemed out of place knowing where it ended. And the other sort of tried to undo one of the big emotional beats of the finale by having Otonashi not move on. While this show was definitely fantastic, I reckon making it two-cour and letting the characters all develop and breath the same as ep10 did with Yui would have made it one of the best of all time. As it was it was just really good (and still probably one of the best of the 2010s)

Toradora!

Yet another show I originally watched when I was first finding out about anime, this is probably the first one from that era of watching that I’ve revisted and had it go down in my esteem. Don’t get me wrong, it is great. Episode 19 (the Toradora!Christmas episode) had me bawling my eyes out. But goddamn, Minorin is objectively best girl and best person and the fact that Taiga gets Ryuji in the end infuriates me. To the point where I’m accepted as head cannon the Minorin x Ami lesbian love story idea because the idea of Minorin ending up sad and along is unacceptable. I just really don’t like Taiga as a person and think that Ryuji really deserves someone better.  One thing that I did love in the rewatch was the unexpected emotional beats of Yasuko (Ryuji’s Mum) and her parents reconciling after… 17(?) years since she ran away from home coz she didn’t want to abort her child. Same with the (sort of) love story between Kitamura and the Student Council President. Plus the bit where Inko successfully says it’s own name was surprisingly awesome (as was Yasuko’s reaction to it). But yeah, while this is a really enjoyable show and I do recommend people do watch it, I think the titular Taiga really undermines it by being such a bad and useless person. Also the music (OPs and EDs) are really fucking good.

Fate Zero (S1+S2)

Damn this show is fantastic. Combined with the UBW series this is the first half of the only good storyline in the entire Nasuverse in my opinion (Heavens Feel is still TBD depending on the last movie). I remember at a recent Fate/ZeroGAMMA.CON panel some idiot said that Kiritsugu was not a relatable/enjoyable protagonist. They are so fucking wrong, he is True Neutral to the extreme (somehow) and that makes it really interesting e.g. how he takes out Lord El-Melloi. And a great contrast with (ironically) his ‘son’ Shirou in Fate Stay who’s all about doing good/justice. Especially when interacting with Irisviel and Saber on his own side and opposing Kirei Kotomine. Plus there’s the awesome Rider and Waver stuff going on which is a great little ‘discovering who you really are’ arc for Waver and ‘getting the respect of your enemies’ for Rider from Gilgamesh. Plus the differing philosophies on how to be a King from Saber, Rider and Gilgamesh. There’s also some great fights- the Caster storyline was a bit weak but I was surprised that the climatic battle in it took three whole episodes. And they were good episodes. I also eno=joyed how they used the Caster storyline to do the mandatory Rin Tohsaka fan-service but made it not dumb or jarring or over staying its welcome. Plus I really liked ho in the anime Rin saves her friend form being mutilated and murdered by a serial killer, apparently in the novel she doesn’t. Also fuck me it is crazy that Kotomine gave Rin the dagger he used to murder her father as a symbol of her becoming a mage. That being said, Kirei’s heel-turn and betrayal of Tokiomi Tohsaka felt kind of forced and didn’t make a lot of sense. Like, I know it needed to happen to get Kotomine in place for Fate Stay but I just didn’t super buy it as being plausible for the character they set him up as in the beginning. On the rewatch I was surprised how early that betrayal came and even more surprised that the Kariya-Sakura stuff lasted all the way to the finale. Poor Kariya, literally dying and falling into the rapey-magic-worm-pit as he was about to ‘rescue’ Sakura… who after he died it was revealed had been completely broken and wouldn’t have gone with him anyway. I also found it odd that Kariya strangled Rin/Sakura’s Mum… but then she didn’t actually die, she just got crippled… I don’t recall Rin’s Mum being wheelchair bound and mentally handicapped being a plot point in Fate Stay. But maybe it is a thing. Oh and the music in the series is so good.

Alderamin on the Sky

This was a pretty average show that honestly I only half watched on Christmas Day while cleaning and rearranging my statue/figure collection. I found it really interesting how they established an attractive, intelligent girl to be part of the Nejimaki Seirei Senki: Tenkyou no AlderaminMC’s harem and then killed her off-screen due to inept military decision by the ‘good guy’ commanders.  Very atypical. I also do like the general concept of a lazy as fuck guy trying to avoid work (as that is very relatable) and at one point showing up the crazy hard working enemy commander by working smarter rather than harder. I do wish there was more of this show as it ends with a big ‘our journey has just begun’ as the princess tasks the MC with saving the nation by destroying it by becoming the main military commander and deliberately losing a war but not losing it too badly. But it is clearly an advertisement for the original manga/novel/whatever where you have to go read the original to get the rest of the story. Well, probably not the rest as it probably won’t finish but you’ll get more of the story.

Death March

As with Alderamin of the Sky, this was a pretty Death March kara Hajimaru Isekai Kyousoukyokuharmless show that I started a rewatch of like… 18 months ago… but didn’t finish. So after finishing Alderamin I jumped in on this again and knocked it over in a couple hours. It’s a pretty harmless and forgettable Isekai. But I do like how it isn’t focused on the MC being the greatest fighter of all time but on being more well rounded e.g. developing skills and economic trade and picking up a wide variety of girls for his harem. But honestly this show is so un-edgy there’s like nothing really worth commenting on…

Uhh… there was some physics lessons about water and states of matter which was different?

Katanagatari

This was a really odd one to rewatch. For the first six episodes I decided that I wasn’t enjoying this and I’d drop it. But I forced mysel to keep watching as I Katanagatariremembered that it was a very different show when it first aired and a bloke I know constantly raves about how good and unique it is. I think the super long episodes were the issue for me- especially given how dense yet slow they were. But it did have an oddly interesting art style and animation. In the end I would watch an episode, watch something else for a while and then come back to it. I found the way the main characters interacted and grew really interesting. Less so was the concept of super swords that weren’t swords, like the ‘swords’ included a suit of armour, a pair of guns, a piece of metal that was super heavy and a solar powered spider robot. I liked how the hyped up the greatest swordsman in early eps and then had him be defeated off-screen while we followed the sister’s story. Where she fucked up 1/4 of the Maniwa Ninja corps. I vaguely remembered there being 12 Maniwani ninjas and expected to have one die each episode. Which is accurate up to ep 3 or 4. Then they get massacred and there’s only 3 left by the halfway point. And they’re all dead before the finale. There was also a twist with Togame at the very end that I didn’t expect which was pretty exciting to see play out. But then there was another sort-of-twist in the very final scene/epilogue that just seemed silly and kind of undercut much of the Togame-Shichika development. I think Katanagatari is worth a watch but I wouldn’t put it high on people’s lists. Again, some pretty good music although it has an unusual amount of vocals which kept making me think I had some random browser tab or other program playing audio.

My Teen SANFU (S1+S2 “Zoku”)

To my surprise, the very opening sequence, like pre-OP of ep1, was such a struggle to get through (very much like Watamote) that I nearly gave up on the rewatch instantly. But I remembered just loving this show and persevered. Which was a great call on S1, it was fantastic. Hachiman being uncannily accurate with how he reads people and situations and gets to the solution of their school-aged-based problems is equal parts hilarious and bitter-sweet-depressing. In particular with the final arc where he reads the situation of the Cultural Committee President both in the lead up to the festival and on the Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatteiru.day when she disappears and he calls he out on her bullshit is executed brilliantly. Basically embodies every mid-tier workers dream of calling out their idiot boss. However it really irked me how the other characters in the show receive Hachiman’s actions so negatively. I fully buy that to the wider school community he is a complete weirdo and jerk who no-one likes. But by their nature of being characters in the show, in particular the ones in his class, the people who are involved with the problems and issues he solves get the full picture of the situation and how his solution is, well, correct. Especially when there are characters who see past it and get Hachiman- Totsuka, Komachi etc. Hayoto especially irks me as he’s clued in enough to see the same meta-factors Hachiman is and his overly negative (and borderline violent) reaction to Hachiman’s actions just doesn’t play right. I presume that in part of the story yet to be animated the situation there is elaborated in on a way that makes it all make sense. One small joke I foound really fnny was in the camp-councellor arc when the pretty/popular/dumb blonde girl’s solution to one of the kid sbeing bullied was “why doesn’t she just go make friends”. As someone who was not in the popular circle of kids at school it just really rang true about how people who have others wanting to be their friends (popular, pretty people) don’t get how hard making friends can be. On the flip side, I found the escalating joke of Totsuka being an incredibly pretty, feminine boy wore itself off quite quickly. While the borderline siscom-brocom joke between Hachiman and Komachi stayed on the right side of the border to be quite funny. Especially in the OV where it was played as if she was basically his wife yet at the end they had a really touching (but brief on screen and played for laughs) moment where he consoled her as her elder brother after she was bullied/terrified by a teacher… well… look if I explain the situation is gets too complicated. Just go watch the OVA I guess. I was surprised with the S1 rewatch that there was such a focus on Yuigahama over Yukinon. In my memory I’d thought that Yukinon had always been the main female lead/focus/potential love interest. As a fan of Yuigahama I very much enjoyed that part of S1.

I don’t have any particular notes from S2 other than being surprised that I Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatteiru. Zokufound it a step down from S1. I think the larger focus in Yukinon and her stupid/explained family situation emphasized to me how she wasn’t really  a good person but where Hachiman was selflessly bad she was selfishly bad. Like S1 ends with an unresolved plot thread of how Yukinon’s car had been the one to run over Hachiman and hospitalise him, thus putting him on the out socially at school. But that isn’t brought up once in all of S2. Instead we get a drawn out inter-club conflict between Hachiman and Yukinon that is incredibly silly given how they have both been shown to thinkk/solve problems previously. Although the introduction of Iroha and her increasing number of unasked-for-confession-rejections was amusing. (I’m really struggling with this one, it’s been a while since I watched it and  didn’t write down any specific points about it)

Love Hina

This has been on my ‘I should watch this at one stage because it’s a foundational part of modern anime’ list for years now. I’m not a super big fan of Love Hinaharems or lazy ecchi shows and that is basically what it is. I mean, when it came out 20 years ago it was revolutionary stuff for young boys everywhere. It’s the granddaddy of those genres. But it is pretty lackluster with a modern viewing. Kind of. It’s weird. Like, there is SOMETHING in here that makes me want to keep watching it even though none of the obvious components are worth watching- concept, characters, storyline, art, animation etc. The OP song is a surprisingly good banger tune though. I watched four or five episodes and while at some point during every episode I wanted to close it and do something else, but the end I was keen to start the next one. Unlike the prior shows I’ve talked about, I am yet to finish this show. So I’m going to keep at it and watch episodes every now and then when I have time or when it suits (likely as something to watch just before going to bed). Will see if I have more concrete thoughts on it if/when I finish or drop it.

Ikkitousen

This was unwatchable. Bad idea/concept, bad art, bad animation, bad dialogue. Was presumably sexy and horny back in 2003 but I couldn’t finish an episode.

Watamote

This show was also entirely unwatchable. But where Ikkitousen was boring and stupid, this was far too painfully real as it perfectly articulated all of the worst bits about nerds and anime fans and their being-a-fucked-human. I dunno how anyone can watch this without feeling super awkward as it basically shows how trash you/your friends/people who like the things you like are. And not in a fun, self-deprecating way. In a really mean way.

School Rumble + Nichijou

I don’t have a lot to say about either of these shows, other than that my reaction to them both was the same. I would watch one episode and it was hilarious. Then I would try to immediately binge another episode afterwards and find my attention drifting. Given they are both comedies of the same style, that being little shorts and funny self-contained segments without (so far) any long form storytelling or character development, I came to the conclusion that these are not “bingeable” shows and need to be consumed piecemeal over time. So like Love Hina I’m hopefully going to catch the odd episode here and there over time and eventually finish them. Or drop them. I found this reaction particularly interesting for Nichijou given how much my anime-fan friends rave about it being one of the greatest meta-comedies of all time. It very well could be but I would have thought it’d be more all consuming and irresistible if it was.

Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic

Now for some reason despite writing down notes about this show three or four times in my little note file, I apparently didn’t manage to save them properly or deleted it repeatedly or something. I dunno. Very frustrating. I Magi: The Labyrinth of Magicactually started watching this show maybe 1-2 years ago at my local anime club but then missed a heap of episodes and gave up. But it was pretty interesting so I decided to give it another crack. And while it wasn’t amazing, it was good enough for me to start downloading the sequel and prequel to watch more. It’s a very fascainting world and the characters are pretty interesting. But I found it really struggled with the transitions between arcs. I dont know why but at the start of each new arc I found my desire to keep watching just plummet. But once each arc got cracking it was fanastic- the first one in the dungeon with Alibaba helping out Morgianna establishes the world really well, the third one where they’re in Balbadd (with a cliche revelation about Alibaba) does a fantastic job interplayin  physical/magical battles and political ones. The stuff with Sinbad is weird to start with but really pays off in the end. My main dislike in the show was the Kaseem character who was frankyl an irredeemable fuckwit (depsite what the show tried to do with him) and the fact Alibaba kept going back to Kaseem and fucking himself up/over by doing so was really stupid. Also it is absolute fucking bullshit that Hakuryuu becaome the master/owner/partner of the Djinn Zagan when Alibaba did 100% o the work clearing the dungeon and was almost literally carrying Hakuryuu through it ater Hakuryuu had proven to be completely useless and inept. But across the 25 episodes the set up did set up a bunch of cool longer plots that I want to se resolved- what’s the deal with Aladdin?And with the dungeons? What’s going to happen with their nations wanting to resist the Kou Empire etc.

Summer 2019 Anime Wrap Up Review and extras

Summer 2019 Season

Overall this was pretty disappointing season for me. But I wonder if it was because the season itself was bad or if I made it seem relatively bad by rewatching some older shows which were really fun.

Good:

 

Fruits Basket– I’m fairly sure I Fruits Basket 1st Seasontouched on this in a previous blog but I was really worried about this remake as the original from circa 2001 has a special place in my heart. But goddamn this show was fantastic. I cried every episode for a big stretch because of the emotional magic being weaved as the characters experienced new things and grew. The only bad thing I have to say about this show is that I have to wait for the second half in several months time.

Araburu Kisetsu no Otome-domo yo: a fantastic show looking at the “joys” of puberty through the lens of five young girls in a smutty school literature club. Was really refreshing and interesting to see the Araburu Kisetsu no Otome-domo yo.ideas of sexual desire and horniness (hornyness?) and attraction to others from a female perspective. It’s not something that is common in media and it’s especially weird coming from a conservative a place as Japan. I found that the five protagonists had varying levels of ROI for the time invested in them. In particular I found I really didn’t like the President’s storyline. Meanwhile I found the storylines for the wannabe manga artist and the “hottie” performer really varied; some episodes they were great and other episodes were a struggle. In particular the bits where, respectively, a teacher really fucked the student-teacher boundary in one and there was a legitimate paedophile in the other were not great. The childhood friend romance character’s storyline (arguably the main story) was pretty great the whole way through. I was disappointed with the last character because… well… nothing really happened with her storyline. They randomly tried to wedge in a lesbian angle but it seemed really ham-fisted.  They touched a bit on how fucked boys could be in it but it didn’t really go anywhere. But some of the best parts of the show was where the characters and storylines overlapped and intersected. Really good. Arguably the show peaked about an episode early due to some poor pacing and half of the last episode was just stretching for time. But this is the only one-cour show from this season worth watching.Machikado Mazoku

Machikado Mazoku– this was a fun show, but I’d only recommend it to people who are pretty big fans of the Magical Girl genre. It’s a comedy version of that where we follow the “evil” demon side of a magical girl vs demon fight. And their incredible streak of bad luck in their efforts to get enough power to fight the magical girl at their school. Some friends of mine say the jokes got a bit too repetitive but I didn’t find that a noticeable issue.

UchiMusume– a very niche trope of a show: single bloke adopts a small female child and raises her as a single parent. To, presumably, marry her as an adult when they realise they love each other *in that way*. Uchi no Ko no Tame naraba, Ore wa Moshikashitara Maou mo Taoseru kamo Shirenai.Fortunately the show doesn’t cover that much of the story. So we just get the heartwarming story of a young bloke discovering the joys of parenthood and children. With the twist being this is a fantasy world and the Dad is an OP adventurer, while the Daughter is an abandoned demon child. A very fun but ultimately forgettable show. Apparently it butchered a story arc to do with the demon girl experiencing racism at her new school but who has time to read manga to see if that’s true. A few bits were overplayed (e.g. the level of love various small animals have for the demon daughter) but it was overall a fun show to watch.

Good?

HenSuki– I loved this show ironically the begiKawaikereba Hentai demo Suki ni Natte Kuremasu ka?n with as a piece of art. It was literally a hentai but minus all the actual nudity and sex. It was so weird. All the characters, the outfits, the ‘story’, the camera shots, the voices… all screamed hentai. But it was a broadcast TV show. Then as I kept watching I think I legitimately started to enjoy the detective mystery: who left their panties with the confession letter to the MC? And why?! The answer/ending was kind of obvious in the broad sense but the specific detail was quite unexpected. But yeah, dunno if this show could be called “good” or even “respectable enough to admit you watched it”

DanMachi S2– this was a disappointing sequel. Dungeon ni Deai wo Motomeru no wa Machigatteiru Darou ka IIThe pacing was so weird, the first arc was squashed into 3-4 episodes when it probably needed 5 episodes to be coherent. While the middle arch was stretched over 6-7 episodes when really it only had 5 episodes of content. And then there was a random arc jammed into the last two episodes which was basically just rushed world building to try set up the next three seasons of storylines. Also despite the name I think they spend about two minutes in the titular Dungeon, and half to that was a post credit scene in the last episode. Also the rampant slut shaming that made up the middle arc was pretty fucked. And then the random line that made it all ok coz ‘the prostitute girl had never had sex and was still a virgin so she’s still ok and clean’ (paraphrasing) was incredibly fucked. Also the weird fat shaming where they made the one fat woman comically stupid and evil for no reason. Such a disappointing sequel, it makes me wonder whether the original show was actually good… especially given how average the movie was.

Given– a rare exception to the ‘all anime Givento do with music is garbage’ rule, while I enjoyed the show while watching each episode, as the weak progressed I was less and less motivated to actually watch each episode. To the point that I stopped watching with two episodes to go for no real reason and only finished them just so I could wrap up this blog. Is an interesting boy-on-boy love story through the lens of a band with a friend’s suicide pre-series really fucking one of the MCs up. And the music is actually tolerable, decent even. I suspect I will finish this at some point

Dropped

Kimetsu no Yaiba– a young guy yells a lot Kimetsu no Yaibawhile swinging his water magic sword to kill demons and save his demon sister. I am assured this show is actually the greatest thing ever and around episode 18 has one of the most beautiful battle scenes ever committed to screen. However I didn’t really care. After an interesting training arc we were given basically monster of the week episodes that then led into “oh there are 12 general you’ll need to face before fighting the main guy and there’s no way this is getting done within the 24 episode series”. The world was interesting but I found all the characters to beVinland Saga obnoxious and/or predictable. Maybe I’ll finish it on my iPad while running on a treadmill at the gym or something.

Vinland Saga– the opening arc of this was fantastic, if a little unrealistic with how insanely strong Thors was. But once Thors was killed (in a pretty bull shit way) and it switched to his son it was stupid. I can only put up with two episodes of whiny, rage filled teenage boy but that kept fucking going.

Kanata no Astra– this show wasn’t so muchKanata no Astra bad as it was clearly just Lost in Space but anime this time. And I’ve already been fucked over by Lost in Space not having an adequate finish twice so I wasn’t game enough to get invested in this. Apparently it has a really well handled character arc of one person being gender-fluid but once it was confirmed to me that the show ends with them still, well, lost in space I decided to not get invested in this.

Dr Stone– everyone is frothing over this show and I am strongly told that it gets fantastic after the first arc. To the poinDr. Stonet I may go back and look at it. My specific problem was the MC being an arrogant jerk who said ‘10,000%’ too often for a science guy and the three initial side characters were idiots. Like one of them literally punched a lion to death in one blow, but then couldn’t kill another character in a fight even though that character refused to fight back. Also they went to resurrect a girl and got all immodest about seeing her nude, which really doesn’t seem like a priority given their situation. I’m assured by multiple people that the starting arc is the worst part of the story and a few episodes after the point I dropped it the annoying characters literally fuck off to go do some long term mission and way better characters replace them. But I don’t Granbelmhave the time or inclination to see if they’re telling the truth, maybe some day in the future.

Granbelm– this show should be my bread and butter having magical girls and mechs. But for some reason it didn’t quite click for me. The story was just not quite engaging, the characters weren’t quite there, the general world was slightly off somehow, the art and animation were (presumably) not super great. Allegedly it has an excellent moment of emotional pay off circa ep10 so maybe I’ll give it another chance in the future.

Joshikousei no Mudazukai– this just remindeJoshikousei no Mudazukaid my of Daily Lives of Highschool Boys and how that was way better. But maybe this is a Guren Lagann vs Kill la Kill thing where as a dude I just naturally like the male version of this concept. The thing I found particularly grating was the opening gag of each episode being a) not that funny in the execution and b) identical in every episode.

Lord El-Melloi II Case Files– the first episode of this was great because it reminded me of Fate Zero and how cool Iskandar was. Lord El-Melloi II Sei no Jikenbo: Rail Zeppelin Grace NoteAnd how great Waver’s character arc was thanks to Iskandar. But then it became a fairly typical detective mystery show… with the exception that unlike a normal detective story there is no fucking way any human viewer could actually piece together the solution. More evidence to my the theory that the further you get away from the Zero+UBW “main” storyline in the Nasuverse; the worse the thing is (noting that Zero wasn’t actually written by Nasu).

 

Bad

Dumbbell Nan Kilo Moteru- low quality ecchi combined with incorrect advice for going to the gym.

Enen no Shouboutai- people seemed to froth over this but I found the characters simultaneously one-dimensional/boring and way over the top. Especially the ‘I frown when I’m happy’ MC. Was a bit inconsistent with how bad these fire things were and the capacity of the Fire Force to effectively fight them. Also I’m 99% sure the church is somehow responsible for the fire demon problems.

Cop Craft- generic fantasy combined with a generic buddy cop twist with a generous layering of horrific animation

Isekai Cheat Magician- the epitome of the horror of the isekai craze, SAO has much to answer for

Maou-sama, Retry- episode 2 was interesting (after a meh first episode). The idea of a competent but not OP person in an isekai is definitely my favourite iteration of the genre. But then ep3 it introduced some stupid character switcheroo thing which replaced the MC with an abhorrently annoying alternative and it was immediately dropped for idiocy

Nakanohito Genome [Jikkyouchuu]- this was just weird. And it was such a poorly executed concept- they had to get their livestream to hit a certain number of total views… which means they could just sit back and wait for it to happen. Would have made more sense if they had to hit a (absurdly high) number of concurrent viewers before they could escape to their home world

Okaa-san Online- probably the most trash thing ever made as an Isekai. The idea of having to live in an isekai game world with a parent who is shit at games is a fairly related ‘horror’ version of the genre. But having the parent be a) OP as fuck and b) insanely sexualised and c) a moron completely wasted this great idea.

Sounan desu ka- an interesting idea, four people stranded on an island, made great by the fact one of the characters has Megumi from Saekano’s voice. Then ruined by the characters being boringly absurd and the Megumi voice not being the MC.

Tejina-senpai- dumb, poor quality echhi ruining magic tricks.

Horrific

Arifureta Shokugyou de Sekai Saikyou: I was hoping this might be an edgy version of DanMachi, maybe something like Grimgar x Made in Abyss. It was just bad. Incoherent story with huge bits being skipped, unlikable characters (including a big titted [tittied? titty-ed?] rabbit girls who’s character trait was wetting herself in terror). I actually dropped this show and then picked up a random episode because I thought people were lying about it: they introduce a dragon girl character who is brought into the building harem by having the MC anally violate her with a massive pole (and then beat the shit out of the pole) which triggers her masochism. It’s fucked.

Gym Extras

As mentioned previously, I discovered I could stream anime on my iPad while working out and running on treadmills. And because I’m too cheap to give any streaming service money, I’m using this as an opportunity to rewatch shows or check out things I’d heard were good but not got around to.

Rewatches:

Re:Zero– This show has such a strong opening two arcs (initial reincarnation and the mansion stuff) and fantastic closing arcs (white whale and witches cult). Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai SeikatsuBut fuck me the middle stretch of episodes is literally unwatchable. Subaru goes from being a likeable MC who is gaining understanding of his ability and the world around him to a complete fuckwit who is actively fucking everything up for everybody around him despite him having already learnt things and dealt with things in previous arcs which make his ridiculous choices make no coherent sense. I really loved rewatching this and getting hyped for future stuff in the world but I recommend giving a hard pass to (approx) episodes 10/11 to ep 16/17. They’re unwatchably bad.

Boku wa Tomodachi S1 + S2 (“Next”) aka ‘Haganai’- peeling back the curtain a bit, Sena in this show was my first hardcore waifu so I have some strong nostalgia glasses for this show. Boku wa Tomodachi ga SukunaiThat being said, I think that S1 is still a legitimately awesome piece of TV, the mix of comedy with the very real feelings of loneliness and struggling to make friends and live the “typical” school live is fantastic. The only “bad” part is that Yozora is legitimately an awful person. Given she’s one of the two main heroines for the MC that’s terrible. Sena, and the rest of the girls who are technically also potential love interests, all mean well and want to try help each other and improve themselves. And they’re just naive idiots. But Yozora is an obstinate bully and a bit of a cunt to the others, Sena in particular, which makes her really unlikeable. But given I ‘stan’ Sena, I’m fine with that. S2 unfortunately didn’t hold up as well for me. Some of the comedy got a bit tired and while the Rika character arc was probably the best arc of any character in the whole show; the massive turn in the last couple eps and the idiotic twist, cliff hanger end was atrocious. Although I did like the little story that was told in the mid-episode pre/post ad break clips as the episodes. All up, I would recommend people go back to check it out.

Kokoro Connect– despite some of theKokoro Connect absolutely (and ironically) fucked behind the scenes action that accompanied the production of this show, I really liked it. It mixes up the body swap trope in some interesting ways and has some really emotional moments as the characters have to confront each other and themselves about their issues. In particular the arc where Heartseed make Iori jump of a bridge after confessing to/with Taichi and the consequences of that were heartbreaking. I only could watch the first 13 eps through a streaming service which is a bit frustrating since I know there are four more out there that Danna ga Nani wo Itteiru ka Wakaranai Kenwrap up the story. A very strong recommendation, the music is also quite good.

I Can’t Understand What My Husband Is Saying S1+S2– a fantastic comedy/romance short about an otaku guy and his normal wife. Mainly from the perspective of the wife. It’s almost sickeningly sweet but manages to pull of being so wholesome. Absolutely loved it. Even the ED song is super cute.

Sweetness & Lightning– the only negatively received rewatch this season, when I first watched this is was a lovely story about a father cAmaama to Inazumaonnecting with his daughter through the avenue of cooking (after the recent death of his wife/her mother) while a shy student of his deals with that and her disconnected family situation. This time is was much slower and less wholesome than I remembered. Dunno why it didn’t land this time around. I think I just got shitty at a small child throwing tantrums and people not communicating clearly so problems escalated when they should have been easily resolved.

New things:

Bodacious Space Pirates– the name of this absolutely put me off when combined with the image of a female dominate cast. Mouretsu PiratesI thought it’d be a horrible ecchi set in space. I’m honestly not 100% sure why I thought I’d give it a crack this time. Turns out it’s actually a pretty funny slice of life combined with a pretty solid sci-fi setting and an action packed story. Some of the gags where thin (like Chiaki’s ice cream love or the songs used to summon the pirate ships) but they’re pretty small jokes. But the characters are unique and interesting, as is the world of these quasi-organised and sanctioned “pirate activities”. The building of stakes as the story progressed happened at a really good point too. That said, it isn’t anything that’ll blow your socks off. This is a ‘if you have time and/or life sci-fi and comedy, check it out’ recommendation.

Beyond the Boundary S1– I remember trying to watch this years ago but couldn’t get past the first episode. I’m not sure why. It’s KyoAni and it looks fantastic. And the set up for the story is really good. Kyoukai no KanataIn fact, the whole season’s story is really good. The characters are great, the comedy is funny, the action is spectacular (even on a shitty iPad screen). This was a really fun show to watch and I’m annoyed I didn’t watch it earlier when it was coming out and people were frothing over it. Although I didn’t feel the urge to jump into any sequel stuff straight away, which interestingly was the same with another KyoAni show I recently watch ‘Love, Chunibyo & other delusions’ so maybe that’s a trend I should look into a bit more. Although I liked Beyond the Boundary more that Chunibyo. Very much recommend and I plan to hit more in the franchise at some stage.

Psychopass Extended– This is a re-broadcast version of Psychopass S1 which, as far as I can tell, is just making it into eleven 44 minute episodes rather than twenty two 22 minute episodes. Psycho-PassAlthough I’m sure they’ve tweaked bits and pieces throughout. It’s been so long since I saw Psychopass stuff. And this was fucking fantastic. The extra length episodes let them compile the different incidents into single episodes while still building up into the larger Mashima villain arc. Mostly. In some parts the longer episodes has a plotline finish mid ep and then starts on something unrelated which was a bit jarring. I’m still gutted over what happens to Kagari in the middle of the season. And I want to see a satisfying continuation/resolution to Akane and Kogami’s story… the movie doesn’t count. Nor does the misstep that was S2. I very much recommend checking this out.

Extras:

Random shit I’ve watched, anime and not.Youjo Senki Movie

Youjo Senki Movie– really fun watching this show move past WW1 in this alternative universe and make it’s way to a WW2 (in a world where Germany didn’t lose WW1… and there is magic…). Watching Tanya fuck up the Russian Communists was very enjoyable. And running through that entire campaign (I assume) as a feature length film rather than 4-6 TV eps worked really well in terms of being a coherent and well paced storyline.

Masamane-kun no Revenge OVA– a thing that randomly dropped into my lap. Masamune-kun no Revenge OVAWasn’t particularly great but I wonder how much of that is due to me barely remembering the show. The weird scene where the MCs Mum, Aunt and Cousin all hit on him coz they look identical was quite weird. Probably worth steering clear of unless you’re into the show and remember it quite well.

Re:zero Memory Snow OVA– one of the reasons I wanted to rewatch Re:Zero was to get me ready for this. I needn’t of bothered. I think I managed about 3 minutes before I started skipping ahead, realised there was Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu - Memory Snownothing interesting about the background piece into Puck and Emilia so I stopped watching it. And it was Subaru setting up his date with Emilia which 100% did not need a 50 minute special to go into intricate detail… at least if you don’t need to get dating advice from anime…

Tensei Shitara Slime Datta Ken OAD 2– this was boring. Some bad jokes about a female character being a terrible cook. And a very tenuous excuse for a beach scene (even by anime standards). That’s it. (No picture for this one because it was a hassle to try fit it in. Just imagine all the acharcters in bikinis and swimsuits.

Australian Survivor S4: Champions vs Contender 2a shockingly good piece of television despite my misgivings over the repeated theme relying on C-list celebrities to gain viewers. Even more shocking when you consider that half the players (Contenders) played the game terribly while the other half (Champions) basically didn’t play at all. But this meant that the handful of people actually playing were able to manipulate some fantastic moves (and some got picked off along the way), leading to probably the best final 6 ever. The final episode was over at the halfway point as it was clear that the person who won final immunity was just choosing who they would lose to in the final vote. I’m also not a fan of the general reliance over strength and/or endurance in the challenges throughout the show. It makes it quite boring having effectively the same challenge happen over and over with the same results. Although there were a few unique ones in there, I suspect the requirement for a challenge every second day (compared to US Survivor) for a longer amount of time on a smaller budget (again, compared to US Survivor) is the culprit behind the repetitive challenges. Was also some very dodgy editing e.g. splicing together clearly disparate sentences into “confessionals”, the “controversy” over Pia’s immunity win, Simon Black’s entire time on the island. Also got annoyed at the people who were complaining over there being no reunion while also creaming themselves over the (very premature) All Stars Season and… actually I’m going to stop here because I really liked this season but the more I think about it the more problems I’m thinking of.

Bachelor Australia S?– I dunno what season this was up to. 7 maybe? Was the one with the Astrophysicist. This show has jumped the shark as very clearly only 1 or 2 of the girls were buying into the idea of ‘looking for love’ and the rest were very clearly there to cause drama, get ratings and/or launch media careers. Was one “shock” moment when the front runner farm girl was sent home a few episodes before the end. But I was honestly more concerned by a) the 100% focus on sexual chemistry by one person being presented as legit love and b) the amount of slut shaming directed at that person by both viewers and other cast members. Pretty fucked.

Banshee S1- a pretty good… drama(?) show about a Banshee Posterdude released from prison who ends up impersonating a sheriff in some back water county town and has various run ins with both the law and criminals. Which he solves very much not by the book. While also pursuing his estranged ex who is the daughter of a Ukranian mobster living under a pseudonym with a family who don’t know her history. Honestly the only thing I don’t like about it is that it is very dated to that era of TV of ‘game of thrones is super big, lets throw in heaps of unnecessary naked chicks to get ratings’. Although there was one scene where a naked chick was receiving oral from her huUnREAL Postersband so I guess that’s empowering… sort of…

UnREAL S1– a good dramatisation of the behind the scenes shit that makes shows like the Bachelor although I was expecting it to be a documentary of the behind the scenes shit that actually DOES make up the Bachelor. It was pretty fun although if you don’t like shows like Bachie I don’t think you’ll get much out of it.

Better Call Saul S4– I tried watching this a couple times when it came out but it just didn’t click. I randomly tried it again (assuming it would suck and I could delete it off my computer) but suddenly it worked. Better Call Saul PosterAnd it was fantastic. This show goes from strength to strength. In particular I really liked the storyline with Mike and how that ended up playing out. Would have liked a bit more of the drug cartel stuff from Nachos perspective. Or maybe a bit of better integration of the storylines- it seemed like we’d get 3 episodes that focused on two storylines, then one of thsose storys would be dropped and a third would come in for three more eps. Then the one that had gone for six eps would be forgotten so the one that was dropped at ep 3 could come back for three more eps while the third kept going. (That description makes sense in my head). basically some characters and storylines would just disspapear for episodes at a time and it felt a bit weird. But otherwise I highly recommend this series, although I acknowledge that it doesn’t work for everyone and you need to be in the headspace for a slow burn show.

The Boys– if you’re sick of the Marvel and DC and general superhero mania craze, this is for you. A great take down of what would happen in the real world if superheroes existed- they’d be commercialized and become corrupt (and inept) as fuck. Karl Urban was great in this and from literally the opening scene it does a great job telling you exactly what this show will be doing. Even the awkward stuff like sexual harassment/assault in the workplace is dealt with in a really effective way. And the mixing of brutal gore with comedy is done incredibly well. Interesting to see that they’ve gone in a different direction that the comic books with some details, especially towards the end (allegedly, I obviously haven’t read them). Looking forward to S2 when it inevitably happens.

 

Spring 2019 Anime Wrap Up Review and some extra stuff

Gonna be a short one today I suspect. There were only a handful of shows I watched and only a handful of those were actually worth watching.

There was an obvious trend this season of shows having interesting premises and good opening episodes but then falling off a cliff towards the end. Hardly a new thing but for whatever reason there was a higher than normal amount of it amongst the things that I watched.

Good

Hitoribocchi no Marumau Seikatsu– this show seemed to be based on trolling western audiences based on the names of all the characters. But it was a pretty funny slice of life gag show that had good character development as the show progressed. Some of the jokes wore a bit thin but overall the comedy stayed pretty good as new characters shook up the dynamics of the jokes. Probably not worth a rewatch but a great one to check out once.

Bokutachi wa Benkyou ga Dekinai– a reasonably funny harem with the odd twist that there is clearly a best girl (Fumino) who is also the only one not head over heals for MC-kun almost immediately. Was basically a better execution of 5-toubun no Hanayome from one season earlier. The loli girl was a bit on the nose in my opinion but I’m pleasantly shocked that a second series has already been announced. Now I just want a second season of Devil is a Part Timer.

Senryuu Shoujo– probably the stand out of the season, a classic high school romance where one of the characters only communicates via written senryuu poems. My only knock is that at the very end of the season, despite a heap of build up and action in the final few episodes, the characters didn’t really end up in a different position compared to where they started. At best they’d moved maybe half a step forward but I would have liked it to be a bit more conclusive.

Dissappointing

One Punch Man S2– despite what all the angry weebs are saying about this, I don’t actually care about the drop in animation quality compared to S1. Yes it’s not as good but honestly it’s still fine. As evidenced by the story of how One Punch Man became popular enough to get an anime, top quality art isn’t it’s strength. It’s the peculiar insanity of the premise and story. And my biggest issue is with that- in particular the huge absence of the titular One Punch Man for the majority of the show. There was more time spend teasing him fighting in the martial arts tournament than he was actually fighting in it. Such that a one episode amount of story content was spread over most of the season. And then one of his fights was off screen (to comic effect which I liked) and the other was like the last two minutes of the final episode. Speaking to people who have read the manga/webcomic, apparently Saitama features less and less as the story progresses so I suspect my issue is more with the source material than the anime. But the fights with Saitama were by far the highlight of S1 and the lack of them in this season combined with the constant teasing of them being around the corner was irritating.

Kenja no Mago– I went into this expecting a fairly bland isekai and what i got was a very bland isekai that kept referencing some incredibly interesting shit happening of screen. The disconnect between how much everyone in this fantasy world panicked at a single demon threatening their city and how blasé they were about an entire army of demons overrunning a neighbouring country was non-sensical. The idea of an uber powered and smart protagonist who had zero real world experience was interesting enough, but the ever increasing number of side characters really slowed down the story. My favourite being the young princess who had the voice of a 40 year old chain smoking dude. There were enough gags throughout most episodes to be amusing and they at least locked in a main girl as the MC’s girlfriend. But the animation and art were pretty horrid at times, even for someone like me who doesn’t notice that shit.

Sewayaki Kitsune no Senko-san– this was a pretty bland show. There was a plot point about how there was no character progression being made which was either a genius excuse for terrible writing/planning or a horrid excuse for terrible writing/planning. Was uncomfortable the whole time I watched this that I was going to be arrested for some underage child thing, which was not helped by the post-credit stuff which got a hard pass from me. If you like definitely-legal-aged-girls-who-look-very-young who also have animal ears and have the singular character trait of wanting to be your servant/slave, then I guess this one is for you. Also the main guy needs to tell his work colleagues to fuck of and solve their problems themselves.

Tate no Yuusha no Nariagari– it’s hard to pin point exactly where this went to shit. It started off pretty fantastic for the first arc (if a bit rocky in the very first few episodes due to the level of naive idiocy required by some antagonistic characters) but there was definitely a really good period. But by the end it was pretty bad. One big part would be the climatic fight happening in ep 18 or 19 and having three competing forces (well, four by the end) rather than two. I think the church being introduced as a villain or that fight and then immediately beaten, while simultaneously undermining the villainy of Malty was a big mistake. In addition having the four heroes still not get along after that point was simply not believable. Even if I buy that the other three heroes were naive idiots at the beginning, the events leading up that battle should have 100% corrected that for the Sword and Bow heroes while that battle itself should have brought the Spear on board. Then the weird mini-arc at the end which was basically to rush in the revelation about the nature of the Waves was… well.. rushed. And also kind of obvious with the introduction of two new mysterious and strong characters several eps earlier. I’d be interested in seeing a second season just to see the end of the story. I tried reading the web novel of this and god it was awful. So maybe the staff did the best they could with what they were given.

Isekai Quartet– this was a strange one. It was kind of funny in parts but the jokes ran thin with the 12 minute episode run times. The characters of Tanya the Evil also really didn’t fit in- which was lampooned in story a few times but even so I couldn’t get over it. Even the staff couldn’t seem to figure it out- the ED credits feature a performance of the “main” girl who is the deuteragonist of Re:Zero, KonoSuba and Overlord… plus Tanya who is the main character of her series instead of the deuteragonist female character from that series. The chibi art was fine I guess but the weird sort-of-progressing-but-not-really story was disappointing.

Joshikausei– an interesting art piece of an anime where the character don’t speak at all. Kind of wore thing even though the episodes run for less than 3 minutes each.

Mob Psycho 100 S2– technically last season but I finished it this season. I guess it’s fine but I seriously don’t get why people are so fucking hyped about it. Someone tried to argue with me that this will be as reputable and popular in 20+ years as Cowboy Bebop and Evangelion are nowadays. They are clearly an idiot.

Nobunaga-sensei no Osanazuma– this was flat out hentai. And not even good hentai. How did this get broadcast on TV?

Continuing

Fruits Basket 2019– I was super nervous about watching this given how much I enjoyed the original series (and I’m scared to rewatch that in case i learn it’s actually garbage). But fuck me this show is wonderful. The characters are so good, it looks pretty fantastic and the story is interesting even if I already know the general gist of it. Highly recommend.

Mix: Meisei Story– I’m not a big fan of baseball but did play it a bit when I was younger. I’m also a sucker for a good sports movie/anime. And given this is like the third or fifth or 300th time the author has written this exact same story with the same characters, they’ve made both pretty good. Only caveat on a high recommendation is don’t watch it at the same time as any of the other work by the author (e.g. Touch) coz it will blend in.

Kimetsu no Yaiba– I didn’t really like the first couple of eps and I wish I’d stuck to my guns and dropped it. Given how much hype it was getting by the pseduo-main stream media, it was always going to be pretty average and dissappointing. I guess the animation scenes are good and the art style is unique/interesting, but the story and characters are pretty cliche.

Legend of the Galactic Heroes– have decided to slowly work my way through the 1980s/90s classic. And it’s fucking amazing. The art/animation is obviously dated but the sheer array of characters and complex storyline it weaves overwhelms any sort of critiscm along such comparatively petty lines. But given how fucking long this thing is, I reckon I’ll be at it for a few years.

BONUS

Code Geass S1+S2– was watching this piecemeal while on holiday and after watching the new movie in cinemas, had a real itch to finish it out. It’s still so fucking good. I seriously recommend it. The only thing of note is that the official continuity of the new movie, and thus everything new that’s apparently to come, has a big key difference. Shirley isn’t dead. It super confused me when I saw the episode where Shirley died because she was still alive and kicking. And it really tears me as to whether or not I like the change. I fucking love Shirley and (I have to be in the minority here) think she was best girl for Lelouch. She was the normal, grounded person unlike CC and Kallen and more so than Nunally really kept Lelouch in touch with humble reality. Her death is an incredibly sad and poignant moment that shifts Lelouch’s character direction massively. It’s such a key moment and getting rid of it for… some unclear reason… I’m not a fan of. Even if it does keep the best girl alive which I am a fan of. Ugh. Makes the new movie go from fun/fine to annoying/bad.

Kizumonogatari– I can’t recall if I watched the first two movies previously but I watched all three after getting my hands on a copy of the final part of the trilogy. It’s classic Monogatari. It’s good, it’s beautiful with its cinema quality art and animation. Its got some good gags. its got some awkward panty stuff.  It has excessively long monologues with insane camera work. Everything you love and/or hate about the franchise.

DanMachi Movie: Orion no Ya– this movie had only one session on the day I saw it, in the first week of it being released and I was the only one in the cinema. On a weekend. Everyone else made the right decision. I guess it was a fine, self-contained story but it really leant on the worst bit of DanMachi (the characters) and actively ignored the best bit (the premise). Was hoping Zeus might pop in but no such luck.

Gym Rewatch

I’ve discovered I can access anime streaming services on the treadmills at my gym so rather than watch youtube speedruns I’m working through various shows on my rewatch list. Also I should note a “Fuck you Crunchyroll” for a) the sheer amount of stuff on their service I can’t watch in Australia and b) the incessant, highly repetitive adverts. If I haven’t started watching One Piece yet, showing me the same ad 6-8 times during an episode of a TV show isn’t going to change my mind.

(A feature where I could mark off what shows I’ve already watched and/or have no interest in would be really good- I legit would like them to advertise shows to me that I don’t know about in case they strike my fancy. There’s been a couple things I’ve given a try because of it in between the ads for One Piece and RWBY.)

Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun– fuck this show is so good. Even five years on (which horrifies me), the humour, characters and story really holds up. As does the art and animation (at least on my iPad). But the lack of a conclusion to the story and/or a second season fucking kills me.

Tanaka-kun wa Itsumo Kedaruge– I really enjoyed this show when it first aired but ran out of steam on the rewatch at episode six. There were a few key scenes I remembered fondly and I’d hit them all by episode four. I may go back and finish it off but… well… I dunno. The jokes in this one just didn’t hold up as well.

Ixion Saga DT– speaking of something that doesn’t hold up, despite me loving this when it first came out I barely managed to struggle my way through two episodes of this. It’s dated horribly. Had to apologise to a mate of mine who tried to watch it a year or two ago and I gave them shit for not liking it. It’s bad.

Log Horizon– I’m still unsure of this one. I watched the first two eps and it didn’t grab my like I thought it would. But it didn’t actively turn me off like Ixion Saga DT did. I recall it was a slow burner (and that season 2 was garbage) so I’m probably going to give it another crack in the near-ish future to see if it’s worth it.

Winter 2019 Anime Review

I enjoy how as each season passes I have less and less enthusiasm to write in anything approximating a reasonable timeframe.

As seems to be a recurring theme, a fair chunk of shows in this season had interesting premises or ideas but then ended up kind of dissappointing. So consistently so that it’s not really worth dividing up good/bad among the things I did watch.

So in (mostly) alphabetical order here’s the anime I watched in Winter 2019:

Domestic no Kanajo– this show started off interesting. Gave a bit of a Scums Wish vibe with the teacher and student relations. Domestic na KanojoAlso the unexpected sexual relations in episode 1 were quite an intriguing twist. But the show just didn’t live up to those initial expectations. It particularly irked me that the boy kept calling the teacher ‘Sensei’ while flirting/hooking up and this didn’t cause the woman to be constantly reminded about how she was a teacher fucking her student. And that was a huge breach of professional conduct. Was really implausible and inconsistent how well she accepted that and didn’t seem to care about the obvious professional risks (and moral ones too I guess). Even just having the kid call her by her surname would be a massive improvement as it would mean they stopped whacking us in the face with it. Also the way they, inevitably, get busted is stupid. In on episode they “hide” by crouching down in a fuck off huge hallway at the school that is 80% windows outside. But that works out fine. Meanwhile they later fuck in a hotel room on the 10th storey of a building and somehow the school photographer takes a photo of a bonfire dance outside that somehow clearly catches them. 6/10

Doukyonin wa Hiza, Tokidoki, Atama no Ue– again this show started off pretty good. Doukyonin wa Hiza, Tokidoki, Atama no Ue. Despite being thoroughly over the overused trope of an MC being a shut in mangaka with no social skills (Barakamon did this best, stop trying to capture lightning in a bottle again) this show had the fantastic twist of dedicating half the episode to being from the perspective of a tsundere cat. Which the MC adopts. Hence his “roommate is a cat” and the show started off quite great. But Episode 3 was an early stumbling block where it had a random supernatural element related to the MCs dead parents spirits being chased around by the cat. Then as episodes progressed they clearly ran out of ideas of what could be said/done through the cats perspective so we got higher and higher proportions of each episode on the stupid MC. And the eclectic cast of tropes who he ran interacted with. Only interesting one was the pet store lady (and I guess her younger brother) but she was in like 3 or 4 episodes. Fun premise but you’re probably better off watching Barakamon and Chi’s Sweet Home. 6/10

Emiya-san Chi no Kyou no Gohan– am very late to the party on this. Emiya-san Chi no Kyou no GohanWas a monthly short by ufotbale with the Fate/Stay characters going on low key cooking adventures. Slow paced slice of life. I’m not much of a cook so the chunks of run time dedicated to explaining recipes were a bit much (I assume they were accurate recipes) but I guess it was nice seeing where these characters from a mid-2000s choose your own adventure porno have ended up. A good show to chuck on before going to bed because if you fall asleep you won’t really miss anything. 5/10

Fate/Stay Heavens Feel II- Lost Butterfly– speaking of “choose your own adventure porno from the mid-2000s”, I saw the second Heavens Feel movie in cinema a few weeks back. Further cementing Sakura as the best girl in my mind (although I expect if I rewatched UBW I’d prefer Rin). Fate/stay night Movie: Heaven's Feel - II. Lost ButterflyThe art and animation was fucking beautiful in this, with some absolutely gorgeous fight scenes between various Servants. Also some high tension scenes where characters confronted others- in particularly I liked Gilgamesh confronting Sakura in a dark alleyway at night time. Was less of a fan of the scene where Sakura and Shiro finally have sex. Two reasons- firstly the dialogue was the cringewothy garbage that… well… reminds you this was the third/secret route of a choose your own adventure porno written nearly decades ago. It was very bad. Equally bad was how much a of a cock tease the scene was- so often Sakura’a tits were nearly on screen but the nipples always managed ot just be out of shot or obscured. Fuck that. If you’re keeping the fucking dialogue, at least show me the insane ‘big tiddys’ of this hot anime girl on the big screen. I want a canon image for what Sakura looks like topless. In beautiful ultra 4k HD or whatever resolution cinemas play. I’m honestly not sure how I feel about the movie. It did suffer a bit being the middle of a trilogy. Also I’ve become psychologically used to anime movies I see in cinema being fucking masterpieces (Your Name, Silent Voice, I Want to Eat Your Pancreas) or popular trash (DBZ movies, Yugioh Movies, that SAO movie). This movie was weirdly neither- it was towards the masterpiece end in terms of production quality and those fight scenes but it was still nowhere near the typical level of an anime movie that breaks into a western release. Will probably revisit it and the first one in a marathon before going to see the third one… if I remember. So uhh… 7/10?

Endro– I really dunno what I expected with this one. Endro~!It gave me Yuru Camp vibes (the MC is basically the same person) in a fantasy setting. And I suppose that’s what I got. But the characters were all pretty one dimensional, the Princess shit me off and the ultimate direction the plot went it was really unsatifying. I technically watched this until the end but I definitely watched the last bunch of episodes in a marathon while working on some other stuff at the same time (and given I don’t speak Japanese, that shows how much I needed to pay attention to follow what was happening). I guess it’s a fine show to pass the time. 6/10

Kaguya-sama wa Kokurasetai– this show was fantastic. The premise sounded like absolute garbage when I read it so it was a breath of fresh air that this turned out so fun. That occasional victory makes slogging through so many bad/disappointing shows worth it… although those rare victories are what keeps the optimism that makes me slog through so much garbage barely alive. Kaguya-sama wa Kokurasetai: Tensai-tachi no Renai ZunousenThe dynamic between the three main characters was fantastic, with the occasional extra of the Treasurer being a great add on. One of my friends informs me that in the source material the Treasurer is more involved earlier on. But I think the well-crafted gag in early episodes of pictures/memories of activities having a fourth person blurred out that the other three are clearly forgetting about makes the tweak worthwhile. Towards the end of the series it did have a few burrs- like the stupid ‘Kaguya becomes a child when she is ill’ which was perhaps a step too far beyond suspension of disbelief. Also the final episode left me with a bit of a bland aftertaste as it seemed that after all the activities we’d seen, including the requisite big emotional arc in the final clump of episodes, the two love interest characters were somehow not in any different position than how things had begun. In fact none of the characters really developed or changed. My friend I mentioned earlier disagrees with that statement but I think he’s confusing us learning more about the characters as stuff happened with the characters changing in response to that stuff happening. And I do acknowledge that in this sort of slice of life comedy show you typically don’t get huge character development. But even half a step in… well… any direction would have been great. All that being said, still an overall fantastic show. 8/10

Kaze ga Tsuyoku Fuiteiru– this show may technically have been part of last season given it ran for a weird amount of 23 episodes. But it was fantastic. All sport anime are either fantastic emotional roller coasters or bland mediocrity and this definitely fell into the former category. The fact that it developed all ten of the runners; plus some supporting characters and rivals AND their various, changing relationships was so good. Kaze ga Tsuyoku FuiteiruThe art and animation were also pretty top notch… the CGI less so. But most impressive was how well it paced the overall story- the team forming arc (where each person was made to buy into the concept), the training/qualification arc (where everyone had to encounter and overcome a personal difficulty within the sport or external to the sport) and the final race itself (plus a small little post-race tease) were balanced perfectly. Nothing ran too long with padding or repeat concepts and nothing felt rushed. If anything, half an episode extra seeing the post-race stuff is all I’d want but ending where it did was perfect emotionally. And the emotional punch in that final stretch of the last leg where the two MCs have both an incredibly touching moment followed by a horrific heartbreak (unnoticed by anyone else) was… well… a roller coaster. This is up with Haikyuu as top 2 sports anime I’ve seen (sorry Kuroko!). Also it hit a bit of a personal note with the ‘making people buy into a cause and helping them push past what they thought their limits were’ stuff. Have done that in a few projects in the past and it is an immensely fun/satisfying thing to do. 9/10

Kemurikusa– this was a very weird one. I never got into Kemono Friends but I knew the creator has the capacity to do something weird and special with his work.Kemurikusa (TV) So I stuck with this even though I probably shouldn’t. It was an interesting world and aside from Wakaba the characters all had their charm. Was quite surprised with what happened with various characters as the finale started to kick into gear. The rapid development of the lore towards the end was both welcome as it explained what was happening but also unsatisfying as it didn’t really explain why the fuck what was happening was happening. The art style and animation were… interesting? Inconsistent? The best of times and the worst of times? I can only assume we’ll get a soulless S2 in a year or two that does a weird semi-reboot and makes things more confusing in terms of the lore. 6/10

Tensei Shitara Slime Datta Ken– this started so well and then ended terribly. Actually I dunno if it started well. The premise seemed ideal for a 2 minute short, gag comedy anime rather than a serious action isekai. I figured the joke would wear off pretty soon and it did… hence they basically made the MC slime functionally a normal, if OP, human very quickly. Tensei shitara Slime Datta KenThat being said the Orc Lord arc was pretty good. And the bit before it about building a village and going to the Dwarf Kingdom were fine. Nothing special… except for Dwarves being human sized and looking just like normal men. But after the Orc Lord things went off the rails. The concept of the next bit with the Demon Lords gaining interest and Milim kicking about and the Charybdis (dunno how it was spelt) but what should have been a 12-13 episode second arc was a rushed 4 episode arc. Letting is then get in a stupid arc where the OP MC goes and teaches at a school to he can raise some troubled orphans. And then we get a side-story from the perspective of a character who died… and then we get a recap for the final episode… what the fuck. There were apparently heaps of story tweaks and changes from the source material. From what has been explained to me by people who have read it, none of them were necessarily bad changes. They just streamlined content and cut out pointless busy work. Like in the orphan child arc the MC has to find a place. In the anime the servant of a business partner knows where it is. In the original it’s some other mini-quest to find the information. Whatever. The issue was that in cutting out the pointless busywork they decided to rapidly accelerate the pace of interesting story content to squeeze in stupid story content. Very disappointing. 6/10

Tsurune– this show was fucking fantastic. I do archery myself and have dabbled in Kyudo so seeing the sport presented in such a compelling anime was fantastic. Tsurune: Kazemai Koukou KyuudoubuThe only issue I have with this show was that we didn’t see more of the girls- because I agree with the characters in the show that kyudo gear looks fucking hot. I really appreciated the depth to which the show focused on getting over the ‘hurdle’, especially when coming back from a failure, which is something I think is applicable to all sports (and probably most things people put effort into). Actually the more I think about this show the more uncertain as to whether Kaze ga Tsuyoku Fuiteiru or this make up the top 2 with Haikyuu. Maybe the silly plot point of the archery coach getting in a car accident on the day of the tournament knocks this one down into spot three. 9/10

Yakusoku no Neverland– somehow I knew about this… franchise? Concept?… about 12 months ago and even then the premise didn’t super excite me. Yakusoku no NeverlandDunno why. It was very good. I think maybe it reminds me too much of the mid-2000s TV series Prison Break which was pretty good to start with but then rapidly jumped the shark once they actually broke out of prison. Also children annoy the shit out of me so the setting having them all be under the age of 12 was not appealing. But I was proven wrong- the art and animation worked really well, the characters were compelling and the plot had some very unexpected twists. Particularly in the last few episodes when… well… the plan starts having changes in it. There was a character trait in Emma that popped up towards the end that I didn’t quite buy and a fantastically unexpected detail about Ray. And Norman… wow… I was shocked how he played things out. Although I suspect the inevitable S2 will remove the emotional impact of his action. 8.5/10

Also here’s some thoughts on shows I started watching in Winter 2019 but didn’t finish for one reason or another:

Boogiepop wa Warawanai- this show had a weird number of episodes (~18 or so), a very confusing release schedule (due to the weird number of episodes) and a non-linear plot. And it’s also releated to a show from the early-2000s. Unsure if it’s a reboot or a sequel. Didn’t care enough to look. I’m assured that it is very good those who watch it and are into this sort of thing- sort of occult, sort of sci-fi, things only make sense on a rewatch when you have all the info and can piece it together. Is on the list of “things to go back to during a boring anime season. One day. Maybe”

Egao no Daika- I dunno why I though this would be interesting. All this show demonstrated was why you don’t put 12 year old children in charge of the military. Because they will do dumb shit and you will lose. Also it was (I assume) an accidental experiment in “trying to make both sides of the war emphathetic to show shades of grey even though one side is demonstrably an unprovoked aggressor doing evil shit to its citizens and the good guys”. Unsurprisingly the experiment found that it’s not possible to make a good storyline that way.

Mahou Shoujo Tokushusen- I think Madoka is fantastic for what it did with the Magical Girl Genre. I also think Magical Girl Raising Project is a fantastic extension on top of what Madoka laid. And given Madoka dealt with “Magical girls finding out shit is fucked” while Raising Project dealt with “Magical Girls surving through shit that is fucked” I hoped this show would delver on the third part of that concept with “Magical Girls dealing with PTSD having got theough the fucked shit”. Unfortunately it dropped that concept pretty much strgaight away and become a poorly animated, boring artsyle generic magical girls fighting each other and other things show.

Mob Psycho 100 S2- I’m still working my way through this. S1 didn’t grab me as much as it did everyone else but I enjoyed it enough. Same thing here. I’m assured that the second half is fantastic so I am currently watching it. And all signs are suggesting it could be fantastic. And if not it’s solid for bingeing while doing other stuff

Dororo- dunno about this. Nothing about it sticks out as bad. Or good. But it’s very different. The art and animation feel off but I can’t tell if I like that or hate it. The biggest draw is the world and the concept for the main plot. The biggest turn off is that the interesting character is mute (at least for the episodes I saw) and most of the dialogue comes from a stupid shit of a child. Another one that I’m assured is worth watching but unless I’m desperate I suspect I won’t get to it.

And some quickfire comments on some of the garbage that was put out by Japan in this three month period:

Dimension High School- interesting concept mixing j-drama and anime. The problem was that the show centred around solving Japanese word puzzles. With literal count down timers for the characters and audience to solve the puzzles. And if you aren’t fluent in reading, writing and speaking Japanese you just spend several minutes looking at still images of word puzzles watching a clock tick down. Absolute waste of an interesting idea.

W’z- WHO THE FUCK ASKED FOR A SEQUEL TO HANDSHAKERS? AND WHO THE FUCK WAS DUMB ENOUGH TO GREENLIGHT AND FUND IT?! FUCK YOU.

Ueno-san wa Bukiyou- I love Science. I don’t love weird attempted sexual harassment and assault in the name of science. Even having a girl doing it to a boy coz she’s fond of him doesn’t make it bearable

Mini Toji- a short based on… Katana no Toji(?) from several seasons back. I duno why I bothered watching it given I struggled to finish that show. I think it was a sequel spin off but who the fuck cares.

Rinshi!! Ekoda Chan- now this is a fantastic concept. Rather than the navel gazing garbage we get typically of “anime set in weeb industry X” (e.g. manga, gaming, anime itself…) this was a 3-5 minute anime short followed by a 20 minute interview with the staff (the director and VA on the episodes I saw) about the process of making anime. If this was an industry you were interested in working in, excellent viewing! Unfortunately that’d not me. Also in one of the first two eps (forget which) there was some really awkward viewing where the old, male director was correcting the young, female VA on what the character (a young, female) would feel on a topic. And the VA just had to sit there with the awkward “this old geezer is so wrong and misguided but if I say anything my career is fucked” smile on her face. A fantastic idea fucked in execution.

Manaria Friends- somehow a yuri show set in a fantasy school wasn’t good. The opposite of a miracle.

Virtual-san wa Miteiru- like Pop Team Epic but worse. In this one the unconnected and not-funny sketches are all riffing of the personas of artificial Japanese YouTube… “characters”. Like Hatune Miku but instead of bad to medicore songs, they are bad to bad YouTube personalities. With literally no story/plot or compent CG as far as I could tell.

Kouya no Kotobuki Hikotai- had pretty accurate WWII era dogfight style plane battles. Which meant they went too long. Also the CG and character models in the non-battle parts was terrible. Find a screencap of the girls standing around in the bar, look how big their hats and and judge the size of their heads to the rest of their bodies. It’s fucked

Girly Air Force- a boy has to seduce and fuck an idiot and/or tsundere airplane to help fight off mysterious alien spaceships/planes. Or something. A plot point of the early episodes is this random refugee getting into (maybe sneaking into) a Japanese Self Defence Force base via his bicycle. The same base with the only line of defence against mysterious aliens has very poor security. Or something… again the details from 3 months ago are hazy. In any event, it was not good.

Grimms Notes- haha isn’t is so funny that the male character transforms into a girl?! And they gallivant through a bunch of classic fairy tales while bantering with various character tropes. Comedy gold! Just read the Grimm Fairytales directly rather than this weird homage adaption.

Bermude Triangle- Colorful Pastrale- How is Cardfight Vanguard still popular enough to warrant this spin off anime about (I believe) one of the card sets? When was it ever popular enough to warrant that? In any event, obviously not popular enough to pay for any decent writer, artists or animators. Can’t remember if the VAs were good. But 4 minutes of this was absolutely horrific to watch.

Pastel Memories- this is the self-aggrandising, navel gazing shit that is a cancer on anime/Japanese popculture. Is about a maid café having to save Japan by making it remember anime/manga that has been mysteriously forgotten. One of the girls looks like a character from Monogatari series. Which is the closest thing to a good ting I can so… although it just reminds you about a far, far better show. This combines the poor book based content of Grimm Notes with the shit storyline of “Plastic Memories”. In the sense that Plastic Memories also had both a shit storyline and the word “Memories” in it’s title. Good stuff

Watashi no Tenshi ga Maiorita!- Female. Paedophiles. Are. Still. Paedophiles. And. Are. Still. Fucked. Up. For. Fuck. Sakes. Japan. Don’t. Encourage. This. Shit.

Ame-iro Cocoa- Side G- a centre swapped side story (‘side’ is literally in the same) about a coffee shop in what I assume is a franchise about coffee shops. All boys. Whatever. Slice of life with uninteresting characters. If you have no forward plot you need fantastic characters. Just having pretty characters isn’t enough. But I guess if you’ve watched the 4-20 previous seasons in the franchise (no clue how many there are. Whatever the number is, it’s too many) you’ll probably like it.

Meji Tokyo Renka- a time travelling reverse harem. If you like historically inaccurate hot boys vaguely seducing a blank slate who probably has some sort of special powers (didn’t watch more than half an episode); this is the one for you!

Extra- Christmas and New Year Backlog!

Because I have the pleasure of living interstate from all my family, I am in the incredibly lucky siutation that I can do whatever I want during the Christmas+New Year holiday/”shut down” period. And because I spend 50 weeks of the year working like a madman, this year I decided to spend it doing as little as possible and watching anime. Notably, I decided to test out the AnimeLab platform. Which is fine as far as streaming platforms go. If you want “legit access” to anime I’d put it above crunchyroll.

Anyway I watched/rewatched a bunch of fantastic shows and have some thoughts about them. Some more than others:

Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu

This show is fantastic. Even a decade later. Actually this is my main critiscm of Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsuthe AnimeLab platform- the episodes can only be done in chronological order. Well, you could manualy watch them in a different order I guess. But watching them in not broadcast order loses some of the magic. Although I think I prefer the DVD order- starting with the Mikuru “movie” episode is such a great way to begin the show and then have stuff backfilled in as you go through the episodes in broadcast order. Also the OPs and EDs are done by broadcast order so they keep randomly changing across the 28 episodes. The plot and characters are great and have been talked to death so I won’t go into that here, instead I’ll touch on a couple other things of note.

Firstly, Endless Eight was far better than I remembered. I’d alwasy jokingly defended it when people complained but now I leigtmiately think it is a fantastic piece of art. The sheer volume of changes that they make to each epsiode without chnaging anything is amazing- the clothes people where, the locations people go to, the places people sit or stand when talking, the orientation of the printed menu in a cafe. It’s fucking crazy. In hindsight I suspect the backlash and (probable) sales drop due to endless eight is what killed the series. But if there’d been a season 3 or even if S2 had been a full 2 cour rather than 14 new eps mixed amongst the original 14 eps it wouldn’t have been so bad. And we would have gotten more seasons to finish the series. Which would have been great.

Secondly, I was shocked by how many episodes were centred on the School Festival. By my count there were 8 episodes related to the School Festival directly and two other referred to it. Which is like… 30-35% of the total. In a modern anime a School Festival would be done in a single episode and then they’d be off to the next thing. By having so much focus on a single event there was such a deeper story to it. Plus there were HEAPS of eatser eggs in the backgrounds of shots as characters did stuff that you saw in detail in prior or subsequent episodes. Case in point was when Kyon was wandering around the School Fetsival you saw Haruhi setting up the impromptu band performance. Such exquisite attention to detail showed a level of care and love and dedication to the show. I really wish there had been more.

Other small details littered across practically every episode like Haruhi’s changing hairstyle (to ponytail, away from ponytail etc), the Mikuru photo folder on the computer desktop, the costumes and shit in the background of the club room… such a well crafted show in the little details.  Many of which you don’t catch if you watch in it broadcast order becuase they are referencing future episodes!

The art and animation also looked great even though AnimeLab locked it at 480p unless I gave them money.

It wasn’t all rosy though- the tension in the scene when Haruhi tried to set up and film Mikuru being sexually assaulted was incredible. I knew it was coming and how it was resolved (not super well through a modern eye) but even so I was gripping the edge of my seat. Incredibly well drawn, animated and performed.

Also whenever Mikuru was brought to tears at any point in the series it broke my fucking heart.

Another incredibly well done scene was the one where Haruhi was doing casting for the movie and happened to nail everyone’s secret roles. The progressive breaking of Koizumi by Haruhi was so good.

So weird realising that the finale (ep28) takes place like six months after episode 1.

Also wasn’t a big fan of the finale. There was a big drop in quality, epseiclaly with the weird Nakano reading a book in a still room for extended periods of time.

That being said, it is still an incredibly and highly recommendable show. Not only was it incredibly pivotal for anime when it was released it easily holds up. It is still far better than the vast majority of shows being made today.

Lucky Star

I tried to watch this show years ago and just didn’t get it. So for ages I thought Lucky☆StarI’d just missed the boat. And I suspect I somewhat have- it’s such a meta/referential show that I probably didn’t catch anything. But I was pleased to find I was very, very wrong about having missed my chance.

In particular, watching it striaght after Haruhi was a brilliant stroke of luck. To anyone who is familiar with both shows the connection is pretty self-evident. They are both by Kyoto Animation and Lucky Star was their next/immediate follow up to Haruhi. Which means that a significant amount of Lucky Star’s content and meta commentary revolves around Haruhi (and it’s impact on anime/nerd culture at the time).

One of the Lucky Star characters has a Haruhi song as their phone ringtone. One of them puts together a dance routine and comments that they need to make the next Hare Hare dance (the dance from Haruhi). In one episode there are people cosplayer as characters from Haruhi. My favourite was when the anime nerd character Konata “watches” the Haruhi finale and makes many of the same observations I made about it being a weird tonal chnage and drop in quality, makes the same speculations I did and then goes onto online forums to see the nerds already in a flame war over it minutes after it aired. Which I can only presume is what actually happened. Another great one is when the group goes bowling and all their names are Haruhi characters… and the scores match up (the person as Haruhi is doing fantastic, Nagato and Koizomi are just behind, Kyon is average, Mikuru is absolutely terrible).

Again, some incredible attention to detail showing incredible love/passion with the project. And honestly I would have missed it entirely if I hadn’t coincidentally decided to watch Lukcy Star after my Haruhi rewatch. So I 100% recommend anyone who is intereste din Lucky Star do the same thing.

It is also kind of weird how well the art and animation holds up. The character/shows design and style is so different to what modern shows do and for whatever reason that style from the mid-2000s just doesn’t date as badly as the style from the mid-2010s. I didn’t realise how old this show was until I looked it up, thats how good it still looks today.

The characters themselves are the emodiment of tropes but it’s done as a parody more than as a shortcut for character development. And the way they meta-commentate through those tropes is fantastic. Which makes it hard to pick when someone should watch this series in their life as an anime fan- you need to have enough of an understanding of anime and the culture to get it… but if you leave it too late then you risk having it’s perfection undercut by things that have copied bits and pieces of it since.

Also for an odd/crass observation, the physical shape of the “well endowed” Miyuki compared to more modern characters (such as Chi from Devil is a Part Timer) is well… noticeably less exaggerated. Really makes you wonder about the people making and consuming this product…

But yes, this show is a classic cute girls doing cute things slice of life and was the perfect antidote to the typical ‘I can’t believe it’s over feeling’ I was getting for Haruhi. Damn KyoAni are a fantastic studio.

…I feel I should praise the show more for being it and not being related to Haruhi but whatever.

Devil is a Part Timer

Continuing my comedy streak of watching/rewatching things, I rewatched Hataraku Maou-sama!Devil is a Part Timer. I didn’t take as many notes for this one as the previous two shows (actually I took none) because it is a much more recent show and thus I was less shocked at how good it still was.

This is another fantastic show. The only bad thing is that there isn’t a second season over half a decade later. Is defintiely a world and a set of characters I want to see more of. Particualrly given how the final episode is kind of shit- the big climax is done in the second last episode, making the final feel like a random OVA with the kind of content you’d expect around epsidoe 7-8 in a one cour series.

Also Chiho’s body proportions are absolutely ridiculous, even without considering her age. Goddamn Japan.

I particurly like the dynamic between Maou and Alciel as the show progresses. The way Alciel frames him and Maou (and Emilia) as construction workers when trying to explain their situation to a random human friend of Emilia’s was a particularly fun scene. Really showed the strength of their friendship and relationship.

Emilia got a bit tiresome with her stalker behaviour towards Maou and I’m annoyed the romantic subplots of both Maou-Emilia and Maou-Chiho existed. Only one was neccessary and I think it would have been better having Emilia come to understand Maou through him having strong relationships with other humans rather than herself. There could be arguments made that him befriending her could be preceived as having evil ulterior motives, but him being nice and supporting random humans was the perfect way to show Emilia wasn’t on the right side of a simple good vs evil war.

But yeah, a great show! Highly recommend!

No Game No Life

Switching things up I went next for an action-comedy sort of show. The main No Game No Lifething I remembered about this was that the art and animation were eye wateringly beautiful. And they are.

I didn’t remember how much incest stuff there was. I knew it was particulary heavy at the start but damn it is very heavy. It lessens and becomes more comedic (…somehow) as the series progresses but it is still a legitimate barrier to making this a recommendabe show.

The highlight is easily when Sora/Shiro and Jibril play Shiritori. It does such a fantastic job showing how the protaginsts think and perceive the world… and how everyone else is overconfident and underestimates them. Plus it is super funny and quite meta in dealing with censorship.

That being said, the final arc of the show is also pretty fun. The series as a whole is pretty great.

My only other observation is that it really drove home how much I didn’t care/want the prequel movie. I want to see another season of them beating the other races in progressibley more ridiculous games. Building up the war thousands of years earlier and finding a convoluted way to set up this ‘war free, game based dispute resolution’ world was just… well… convoluted and unnecessary.

D-Frag

I loved this show the first time around but struggled to get through the first ep on this rewatch. Dunno why. Maybe I’d just watched too many comedies in a row?

Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions!

I feel a bit mixed on this show. Something about it has put me off it for literally years and I was really reluctant to watch it despite many friends recommendations. Unsure what or why though, I’ve just always had an odd feeling about it.

But I decided to give it a shot. I’m not sure if it grabbed me immediately but the middle chunk of S1 had me absolutely hooked. I found myself really relating to the stupid made up fantastical scenarios I had a kid (personally, many revolved around Dragon Ball Z stuff) and then trying to bury that shit when I got to highschool and it was no longer acceptable/cool to play ‘make believe’ any more. I also liked the different ways Togashi and Nibutani tried to solve their similair problems. When Nibutani started having weird interest in Togashi I knew something was up but it defienitely wasn’t what I expected

While some of the characters (in particular Dekomori) were a bit over the top in some ways, they also felt very realistic in others. And the way they came about getting together in their group and then interacted was great. Even the less prominent characters had developed and relatable subplot- like Isshiki’s attempt to get girls backfiring over the course of several episodes.

What derailed the fun train for me was the end arc. And the way that it kind of concluded, as I interpreted it, that not growing up and having all these fantasy delusions about reality is an ok thing because/if it’s being used to “deal” with an emotional tradegy e.g. death of a parent. Even though the character in question actively wasn’t dealing with stuff. It seemed such a poor way to conclude the overal arc and the romantic plot of the series. And the real world message was kind of fucked.

Unsure if I’ll watch S2. One day perhaps but I’ve got a bit of a yuck feeling from the direction S1 decided to go in.

Also random shout out to the fact the main guy’s dad works in Jakarta. What a random place to pick and a refreshing change from ‘somewhere vaguely in Europe or the USA’.

Survivor: David vs Goliath+Palau+Guatemala

An odd inclusion here given I typically talk mostly about anime. But over the Summer I finished Survior S37- David vs Goliath and also watched the entirely of S10- Palau and S11- Guatemala. I’m slowly working my way through the older seasons after getting hooked in the early 30s by a friend. And it’s been good/weird to compare and contrast the modern game with how it originally played out.

It’s also been bad because it’s kind of ruined the modern game. When my friend got me hooked in S32- Kaoh Rong I really enjoyed a couple seasons. But as I started watching the older ones, I realised how much more interesting and exciting those early seasons are.

Those first ten seasons comprise a fairly defineable era of the show- in Guatemala the hidden immunity idol is introduced and it’s downhill from there as it switched from a balanced social game to a strategy heavy game. In the newer seasons, basicllay every episode is dominated by strategy talk of different groups of people trying to form and split majoirty voting blocs to account for one of the four thousand idols or advantages introduced into the game over 30 plus seasons. Whereas in the earlier seasons you saw people having to actually survive and compete and manipulate each other without it backfiring. So much more intriguing and satisfying. Nowadays it seems to all be episodic big moves and very little character or story development.

That all being said, while I love the early seasons (with the notable exception of S8- All Stars which is a steaming pile of heartbreaking garbage), I can already see the wheels falling off in Guatemala as the production/editing switches focus to try and trick the viewer into thinking there is a coin flip decision between two options when really something entirely different is happening on the island.

That being said, David vs Goliath was a pretty fantastic season. I’d say maybe low top ten, probably early teens in terms of season rankings. I got a bit over the Natalie drama and think it was emphasised too much in the ealry season but otherwise the show had a fantastic build up to the double episode. Peaking with the 5+ hour endurance challenge between Christian and Alec that resulted in the David’s finally wresting control from the Goliaths. After a series of fantastic plays including vote steals, idol nullifcation (a new twist) and even splitting a minoirty vote (a survivor first). But then the David’s shot themselves in the foot and gave control back to the Goliaths. It was kind of impressive how the Goliath tribe effectively didn’t break their alliance the entire game. But it made for an increddbly boring endgame- there was really only one possible winner who would be good (who did win) and it was just a question of whether he’d have an immunity run to make it or be voted out and have someone less deserving sneak into the winning spot.

(Which as an aside is what happened in Aus Survivor Champions vs Contenders- the Final Two was a person who quit a bunch of challenges and got carried to the end and a person who should have been voted out but was saved by production with an incredibly suspicous hidden immunity idol find. A dissapointing end to an otherwsie great season. Also both Final Two were super rich which made it hard to want either to win the money)

Fortunately that person did win and it was a pretty satisfying end. And one where it was both hard to see who would win, but the finalists all (quite unusually for a modern season) had been present in the show and storylines since the first episode.

In stark contrast to Guatemala where the ultimate winner was basically absent from the show until the halfway point. Which is actually pretty typical for modern survivor and I was suprised to see this issue emerge so early. When all the people you are introdcuced to in ealry episodes get booted form the show, it’s hard to enjoy the back end of the show and like the winner because the people you like don’t win. And you’ve already had the satsifaction of the people you don’t like losing. Guatemala in particular had a pointless first four(ish) episodes because there was a super convoluted tribe swap which broke everything (in terms of alliances and relationships) and made it super hard to follow who was with who and doing what. After that point though it had a fantastic stretch of episodes (although the extended parts where everyone was off by themselves in the forest looking for the first Hidden Immunity Idol were an ominous foreshadowing of what was to come) that then petered out as the interesting characters were clearly painted into a box of “too much backstabbing to get jury votes” and a semi-random person ultimately won.

Palau was a fun season. The winner did a pretty good job of being a dominant force throughout the whole season. Played pretty close to a perfect game from episode 1 all the way to the finale. Was also really weird seeing one tribe be literally destroyed via immunity challenge losses. With the last member being sent over the merge with the other tribe. In a modern season that would never happen as they’d do a tribe swap or some other thing. The utter domination by one tribe made it incredibly compelling viewing through the start of the season. The high stakes drama of the final episodes as the dominant alliance came apart (led in part by a series of super dumb decisions by Ian) led to a fantastic Final Immunity Challange. And a brutal Final Tribal. An absolute corker of a season!

Sometime in the future I’ll probably do a write up about my Survivor thoughts. From what I’ve seen so far I’ve noticed a fairly horrifying trend in male vs female winners which does not speak well to how people judge winners in the game.

 

Fall 2018 Anime Round Up

I’m only about a month late but whatever. Fall 2018 was a fairly uninspired season- chatting with a friend yesterday I literally couldn’t name a single show I’d watched without referring to my notes.

Great Shows:

These anime were legitmiately good and highlight why this medium is arguably better than live-action and how its not just for kids.

Seishun Buta Yarou wa Bunny Girl Senpai no Yume wo Minai– this show wasSeishun Buta Yarou wa Bunny Girl Senpai no Yume wo Minai fantastic. Easily AOTS. In the same vein as SNAFU or even Classroom of the Elite (I’m reasonably sure all three have the same writer or character designer…), a deadpan main character deals with the ever increasing harem of attractive girls around him. However unlike a tpyical harem, he actually has a girlfriend and the girls all have actualy characters, development and interpersonal relations that aren’t just about the male MC. The art, animation and music are all really really good (although the hype of the OP song is perhaps a bit too much). It also has some really good small touches, like the chnages it makes to the ED as it progresses through each arc. Thankfully the bunny girl stuff really only features in ep1 and then a single scence around ep8-9 and is played for emotional laughs. The supernatural stuff isn’t too ridicuous even though by all rights it’s stupid, they use it to good comedic effect with the deadpan MC. But the show really focuses on the characters and how they (in)effectively deal with puberty and goreiing up and family/societal pressure. Which is a super relatable to any audience. The arc with the science nerd girl was a bit of a dissappointment and I’m annoyed at the number of unresolved plot threats (namely the mysterious purple haired beach girl and the MCs own supernatural issue which is highlighted in ep1). Also the ending was fucking heartbreaking with how things panned out for the MCs sister. Such a beutifuclly emotional show. Absolutely recommend it and insts people ignore the silly title.

Yagate Kimi ni Naru– what appears to be a yuri romance show on the surface is Yagate Kimi ni Naruactually a show about young people’s self-realisation. Speaking to a fellow anime nerd about this show, it was observed that none of the characters actually change what they are or what they’re doing over the show. Rather, what changes as they develop is that they stop passively being *something* and start actively being that same *something*. The art style and animation are eye wateringly beutuficul, notably the walking to and from the student council room. And the romance triangle that sort of forms between three girls is a fantastic deconstruction of a girl who is disillusioned with her own inabilty to feel love, a girl who has been putting on a persona for so long she doesn’t know how to be herself and a girl who has dedicated her enitre existence to a falsehood story. But even then, those brief descriptions barely capture the comoplexity of those three characters. As a crisitism, the two other characters included in the student council feature in half an epsiode and zero episodes respectively which was a bit dissappointing. Also the fact that the yrui romance was successfully kept a secret and had no repurcussions was an odd choice. There was a weird subplot about one of the yuri girls being told by an ex-lower she was just going through a phase which was a but weird. Also the final arc was quite tropey in that they were perfomring a play that happened to replicate aspects of the weird love triangle, false persona situation. But it was handled suprisingly well, in parituclar all three characters immediately relaised this and it became an active spy-vs-spy thing as they watched how the other reacted and did things themselves to try steer it to their own direction. The ending was a bit unstasifying in the sense it didn’t reach a proper conclusion, but I guess that’s an incentive to read the manga. However my biggest issue with this show, and the reason I initially dropped it, is that the early episodes feature pretty frequent sexual assault of a young girls by the older one. It’s played off in a positive way as the young girl doesn’t feel assaulted or a victim but even so it’s quite off putting and gross. Is the main reason it isn’t AOTS. Makes it hard to recommend because rather than the usual anime caveat of ‘dumb stuff in bad taste’ (e.g. ridicuously proportioned female characters) it’s got an actively, morally bad starting point. It’s great if you can get past that but still is kind of fucked.

Watchable Shows

These shows weren’t actively terrible but they weren’t actively fantastic. I enjoyed them as filler content while playing Smash Ultimate or eating or watching two things at once.

Irozuku Sekai no Ashita karaIrozuku Sekai no Ashita kara- or as I call it, poorly-Irozuku Sekai no Ashita karadisguised-depression-metaphor the anime; was a fine show. The art and animation was generally good and the characters all had reasonable development. The fact that pretty much all the intercharacter relationships we saw develop were romantic ones (with the exception of the MC and her grandmother) was a bit boring. Also the solution to the MCs “I can’t use magic for some reason” (*cough* I’m depressed *cough*) was obvious from episode 1. There was also a “reveal” about a book the MC vaguely remembered from her childhood which was also incredibly obvious several episodes in advance. I was a bit suprised how much of a focus was put on school based content given it was technically a magic anime but the activities that happened there were fun enough. Only real issue is that they didn’t stick the landing at the end- which they never could because it was a time travel anime. The MC was sent into the past by her grandma to hang out with teeange-grandma and her friends. So they then built up all these relationships, in particular a romance, and at the end there was a somewhat rushed arc about her having to return to the future. I won’t spoilt how it reolved but I wasn’t happy with it emotionaly… but then again I think the alternatives would have been equally unahppy for a variety of reasons. Time travel should just be avoided, Steinsgate lukced out in being fantastic.n

Release the Spyce– I’m not really sure what I exoected from this show. I foundRelease the Spyce the unintentional message of ‘do drugs, they make you stronger and you ca do cool shit’ kind of amusing. The… six(?)… main girls were kind of cute and the world/story was kind of interesting. I guess. Each episode consisted of some insanely stupid “espionage” thing followed by an action sequence of these ninja girls fucking people/robots up. The training arc went maybe a little too long and the MCs self doubt got a bit grating. There was a werid side plot involving a viking girl which was funny (in the sense that the viking girl had wiped out an entire branch of the secret spy agency and no-one noticed) and there identify of the traitor was a bit of a suprise… as were the consenquences of their revelation as a traitor. This is 100% the sort of show to watch while making dinner or doing homework- you can stop watching for minutes at a time and not be confused about what’s going on when you come back.

SSSS.GRIDMAN- I have no love for the Gridman franchise. I have never seen SSSS.Gridmanany other parts of it. The only reason I watched this was becuase it was Mech vs Kaiju fights. And there was a weird amount of discussion over how “thicc” the main female character was. To be frank the show was garbage. It looked pretty but reused footage way too often, had fairly cookie character characters and the story was pretty uninspired. Typical villian-of-the-week mostly with a weird redemption arc (or two?) in a longer story towards the end. And the thicc girl was basiclaly always shot from the wasit up so that was a complete waste of time on everyone’s behalf. I guess this show was like a DCEU movie but unlike DCEU it chickened out and didn’t committ to weirdly sexualising its female characters. So a good show to watch if you like a pretty, trainwreck you don’t need to devote brain space to.

Tonari no Kyuuketsuki-san– cute girls doing cute things, but two of those girlsTonari no Kyuuketsuki-san are 300+ year old vampires. A yuri vampire slice of life. A fairly funny if fogettable show, each of the four characters fit a fairly standard mold and the episodic nature of the epsiodes meant that if a storyline didn’t really work, it was gone pretty soon. For example the werid doll stuff. Most unrealistic thing was the the MC’s (a like, ~14 year old girl) parents were happy to let her move out of home and in with another 14 year old girls (one of the 300) old vampires) without parental supervision.  Some of the gags around a 300+ year old vampire being a massive otaku were pretty funny- her coffin full of body pillows, her insistence that the only people posting to forums at 3am must also be vampires who don’t need sleep etc. I kind of switched off towards the end of the series but it a decent show to chuck on if you’re bored and don’t want to think too deeply.

Otona no Bouguya-san– was a fairly Otona no Bouguya-sanforgettable short about a fantasy world shop selling female armour i.e. sexy armour. Each epsiode had a laugh or two and they run short so that was fine. Nothing really of interest. It relied too much on the premise in ealr eposides and then had a really bad crack at a story in the later episodes. It was fine though. Good to watch while brushing your teeth.

 

Dissappointing Shows

For some reason I thought these shows would be great but turns out I was wrong.

Goblin Slayer– despite all the bullshit press coverage, episode 1 of this show Goblin Slayerwas fantastic. It did a great job estabishing the characters, the world and the tone of this very grimdark fantasy world. However it didn’t live up to that setting and, through a combination of righteous backlash and the fact the manga also does this, quickly regressed to being a typical fantasy world show. Look, rape is fucked. I know that. You know that. We all know that. So the way Goblin Slayer used rape to show just how fucked the world was isn’t inherently a problem. What is a problem is that completely disregarded being an actually edgy grimdark story- what was an awesome exercise in world building was turned an oggensivel egregious use of rape to shock people into paying attention. The manga regressed into medicrity a bit less abruptly from what I’ve seen but the anime glosses over the other sharp edges in the story pretty much entirely. Ultimately ending with a stock standard fight of misc adventurers fighting off a few waves of attacking goblins. Ugh. Was also kind of funny that they killed a Beholder with a sack of flour.  If you’re a fan of D&D and being a murder-hobo this show is probably worth watching btu otherwise there’s more interesting stuff out there.

Uchi no Maid ga Uzasugiru!- I cannot for the life of me figure out why I thought Uchi no Maid ga Uzasugiru!this would be good. If you gender swap the adult character it’s just flat out pedophilia. It had a few funny gags buried amongst garbage that somehow kept me going. Somehow. I don’t know how. Don’t watch this. It doesn’t even explain why the MC has a fucking eyepatch after serving in the JSDF. Ugh. I’m not even sure if any of the characters have any worthwhile growth. The side characters are partiucalry aggravating, epseiclaly the Maid’s ex-JSDF commander who’s a massive masochist for no reason. And the young loli girls friends, parituclarly the “popular” one who keeps challenging her to fights. Oh and there’s a super contrived ‘big drama’ event at the end of the series that is not even based on a plausible misunderstanding, it’s just based on characters being incoherent. So dumb. Don’t watch.

Dropped Shows

Everything prior were shows I watched entirely. Any other Fall 2018 anime was bad. But here are some particualrly egregious examples of bad-ness which make it hard to be an anime fan and also have people’s respect. Or are just things that weren’t for me (a person with a full time job and decent taste)

Conception- the plot of this show is a bland MC having to fuck 12 girls who match the star signs to save the world. Starting with the cousin who is also pregant through immaculate conception. This show is almost literal cancer.

Bakumatsu- some weird bishi samurai displaced into an alternative era show. A plot point of the opening ep is how one guy uses a really big sword. I don’t remember anything else. Not my cup of tea.

Sono Toki, Kanojo wa- this wasn’t anime. It was a bunch of poorly drawn still images with naration put to it.

Akanesasu Shoujo- something about a crystal radio connecting different worlds and girls fighting monsters. Possibly some interacting-with-other-versions-of-yourself-who-have-a-really-fucked-life.  Found it quite boring.

Anime Yell!- sports anime where the sport is cheerleading and the art/animation are a bit weirder/simpler than they initially seem.

Dakaretai Otoko 1-i ni Odosarete Imasu- one sexy hot male model blackmails another sexy hot mail model into a relationship. I think. Which might be the plot of one of the Zoolander movies. Again, not my cup of tea but I suppose I can see it appealing to specific demograhics.

Double Decker! Doug and Kirill- Tiger and Bunny is a fantastic show. This is a poor sort-of-prequel that tries to cash in on the buddy cop dynamic but completly fucks it up. Go watch Tiger and Bunny instead.

Frankenstein Family- a fairly generic/boring show across the board, supplmented by a large amount of in studio interviews with the people who were making the show. I guess it’d be good to watch if you want to work in the industry and get some insights into the production of anime.

Gaikotsu Shoten’in Honda-san- a fantatsic 2-3 minute short anime strecthed into 15 minute epsiodes of subpar mediocrity.

Gakuen Basara- quite possibly the worst adaption of the warring states characters. This time the historical figures are all delinquents in highschool gangs! Or soemthing.

Himote House- oh godm the CG, it burns! This is the type of show that makes it hard to argue having CG in anime is ok/can be beneficial.

Hinomaru Sumo- a sports anime about sumo. Featuring a lot of delinquents (at least in episode 1) and a MC who’s main characteristic is that he is small. Not a sport I care for and the over the top dumbness makes it a worse verion of Kuroko no Basuke.

Jingai-san no Yome- I dont understand. Why is the male highschool student this weird fluff creature’s wife? He is very clarly male and very clearly a wife. What?

Karakuri Circus- I dunno. Some people have told me this good. It’s a fairly generic shounen but this one is set in the circus rather than with ninja/pirates/magicians. Whatever floats your boat?

En Ken – Aoki Kagayaki- I think this was a Chinese production. Probably towards the better end of that genre of anime but yet to crack into ‘good’. It had a lot of interesting elements but fuck it was a poorly paced, confusing mess without the best art/animation. Maybe next time China.

Kishuku Gakkou no Juliet- Romeo and Juliet but in this version the two groups have about four different characteristics that splot them- nationality, colour, animal, direction on compass, preferred form of government. You know, the usual.

Kitsune no Koe- continuing the trend that any anime about music is bad.

Muhyo to Rouji no Mahouritsu Soudan Jimusho- a boring supernatural/detective agency show. Just watch Mob Psycho 100 instead.

Ore ga Suki nano wa Imouto dakedo Imouto ja Nai- further showcasing the horrors of animes deepest depths, in this one the MCs little sister is a perfect human who loves him (too much) and wrote a super successful manga about a girl who loves her older brother. And the MC has to pretend to be the author and thus gets fawned on by a harem of terribly an dinconcstently drawn one dimensional “characters”. Fucking hell Japan.

Radiant- a genera wizard shounen. Like Black Clover, maybe less yelling. Equally as bad.

RErideD – Tokigoe no Derrida- further proof that Steinsgate was a massive fluke. This weird time travel, robot apoclypse, greedy corpoation show by the Steins;gate… creator? (writer? director?) was boring and bad. And super fucking contrived all through ep 1 to try set up the nonsensical “story”.

Sora to Umi no Aida- five(ish) young girls fight against the patricachal system of space whaling. Fuck off.

Ulysses – Jeanne d’Arc to Renkin no Kishi– you think Japan only fucks up adapting their own historicla events? Have you heard of the 100 year wat? Well imagine every one of the main people is a cute young girl who wants to fuck (I mean, be friends with) Montmorency (who’s based on Bluebeard). Also there are fairies who all look like kids toys except one who looks like a dominatrix and is the one who accompanies our “hero”. Fucking hell Japan.

Zombieland Saga- an idol show not as bad as that Yakuza Idol show from a season or two earlier. It had a fantastic opening bit then went down hill into, well, generic idol bullshit. I’m told the rap/hiphop at the end of ep2 was great but I disagree. Am also told there is a big emotional reveal about why the MC is one of the zombies (given she is the only non-idol) but I don’t really care.

Devidol- an idol show that was as bad as that yakuza one, however while that was just an incredibly fucked concept, this one is a minorly fucked concept and incredibly fucked CGI.

Bonus Stuff

Here’s some other random anime stuff I’ve finshed recently:

SAO 2- with SAO 3 starting this season, it seems the perfect time to finish S2. However I don’t care about watching what’s popular anymore, only stuff I like/think I like. More to the point, I got a new laptop and needed to transfer files off my old one. So I decided to give up on FFF fansubs and just watch the final arc of S2 with official subs. It was boring. Introducing a random character who is magically better that Kirito (maybe) and then killing her with cancer or something was presumably a nice emotional moment for fans. But I don’t care about the characters.

Attack on Titan S3- I don’t actually know if I finished this show. I think the blonde girl is Queen (Krista?) and there was some shit about undergound crystal caves. As with SAO S2, I just wanted to clear up space on my computer. This show is bad and you should be dissappointed/angry at how its ended up being so bad.

Steinsgate 0- I finished it and also have watched half of the extra OVA episode. I was pleasantly surpised with the ending/final arc. The show definetely sucked in the middle chunk but with a solid opening and ending story it was worth the watch. OVA is just a waste of time. And it’s nowhere near as good as the original. But I guess it’s a fun journey back into that universe.

 

Summer 2018 Anime Review

It felt like I watched very few shows this season, so looking back at what I had apparently watched was quite a surprise. Here’s some thoughts:

Finished/Watched Shows

Grand Blue: Probably the closest thing to a stand out anime this season, a slice-of-life based at a university rather than a high school was refreshing. Sure the jokes were repetitive and there was a weird semi-plot line about kind-of-romance between cousins; but it was a fun show to chuck on and laugh at without thinking too much. Also seeing sexual themes outside of hentai and reasonably realistic alcohol consumption was cool.

Overlord S3: A better ratio of “boring-exposition-filler-with-stupid-characters” to “actually-interesting-story-and-world-development” episodes compared to S2. Perhaps not as good as S1 but still overall some really solid development of characters and story and even some world building. Credit where credit is due- some of the pay off in this season does depend on characters and story that were in “bad episodes” in S2. Have yet to watch the finale so it could shit the best but was overall an enjoyable series overall this season. I particularly liked the stuff actually dealing with the Tomb of Nazarick and it’s interactions with  the surrounding nations.

Hanebado: This was a solidly fine series. As with all sports series, it will never be as amazing as Haikyuu!! so it has to find an interesting take on the sports genre since it can’t have the best. In Hanebado, that ‘interesting take’ is that the MC is a psychologically fucked girl who has no feelings for other humans and once they are forced to play badminton, they break and become a maniac who brutally toys with and crushes everyone they play. The timing of the reveal is good because at about episode 6 the show is a super generic sports anime… and then this girl goes fucking insane. Which carries through enough interest as everyone else fails to understand the monster they have unleashed.

Boku no Hero Academia S3: I am officially over this show. There was a really great part in the middle where the plot actually progressed and characters/world had to deal with the fall out of what was happening. But the start and end were boring tied-to-the-progression-of-a-school-year bits. Plus a few very clumsy attempts to shoe horn in plugs for the new movie. But seriously- the whole world/society is grappling with the concept that their previous system/symbol of justice and law and order (All Might) is gone and the Villains are coordinating… and we’re seeing shit about the kids going on Summer Camp (which is shockingly attacked by Villains) and going for the equivalent of a Drivers License so they can do work experience. Also the incredibly patronising way the show reminds the viewer of every fucking heroes’ fucking name and fucking superpower whenever their face is on screen. This is fucking season 3. I know who the characters are and what they do. All you are doing is annoying me and reminding me how fucking unbalanced these bloody super powers are. I was offered free tickets to go see the movie in cinemas and I turned them down because fuck that.

Happy Sugar Life: This was a mixed bag anime. It had a heap of interesting potential based on the first episode of this clearly crackpot girl trying live her crazed fantasy and murder anyone who got in her way without breaking the illusion of her being an normal high school girl.  But from episode 2 onwards every new character introduced turned out to be equally fucked up which made all the characters overall less interesting. that being said, the way the story panned out in the last couple episodes wasn’t what i was expecting which was pleasant. A surprisingly gory and dark show even given the premise, would recommend people check it out but not a high priority

Hyakuren no Haou to Seiyaku no Valkyria: My god this was a horrifically bad show. Offensively so. The idea of a normal guy being taken into a battle world and using his phone’s internet search ability to climb to power and gather a harem is super original. The only original part of this show was the fact it somehow thought it would get a sequel and spent the last episode doing stupid filler rather than actually resolving the big cliff hanger battle. With it ending as the MC rode off to the final big battle. At least it had a diverse cast in the harem including an occasionally funny comedic duo of sisters.

Isekai Maou to Shoukan Shoujo no Dorei Majutsu: This show started interesting… if you could get over the obsene fan service. It provided an interesting fill in whiel Overlord S3 had a shaky start. And then when Ovelrod 3 got really good, this got even dumber. I found the ebst way to watch it was to skip the 2/3 of each episode that was exposition/plot or “plot” and just watch the fairly interesting battles.

One Room S2: I loved the first four episodes which featured the same heroine as part of S1. Because she was the best heroine in S1. Then the other two heroines were uninteresting and boring.

Shichisei no Subaru: I have no clue how I watched this the whole thing. It was so generic and lame. The only thing of note here is that the conceit of the show is that the main girl literally died five years ago while playing an VR-MMORPG and her mind was somehow trapped in the game. So the heroes need to find out how to free here. And then at the end of the series…. that hasn’t changed. Despite the big celebration vibe and how everyone is now super happy because they beat the villain and the hero group is reunited and ready to play the game more.

Steins;Gate 0: I’m a bit torn on this one. There was an amazing stretch of episodes in the early-mid section with big reveals and twists and fall out and emotions. But overall the shows not been anywhere near as good as the original. Which is admittedly a fucking hard act to follow. I’m still about 5 or 6 episodes short of finishing it so will see how it pans out. The original smashed the home run out of the park so hopefully this version will too.

Shingeki no Kyojin S3: I don’t enjoy this show. I know that the manga/story is insane and bad and does not live up to the hype/set up of the beginning of the series. But this is so ingrained int the anime discourse that I’m obliged to at least half watch it while playing games on my Switch. It’s vaguely interesting I suppose.

Started and Dropped (typically dropped after 3 eps):

Island: Fuck this show was a mess. I was hoping for another Star Driver given episode 1 was a fucking beat for beat rip off of the concept… minus the cool robots. Perhaps the most interesting thing that happened was there was a semi on camera sex scene at the end of ep 9 or 10 (I dropped it before this point so i’m not sure) which, I think, meant the MC had been hooking up with his daughter in earlier episodes. Because it turned out there was time travel involved. Ugh.

Harukana Receive: Haikyuu!! is about volleyball and is a fucking amazing show? take that concept and put it on a beach with a bunch of pretty girls of a variety of shapes (well, most of them have big tits) in skimpy bikinis. What can go wrong? Everything. So boring. not great animation. Really flat characters (as in, flat personality wise). Repetitive “jokes”.

Kyoto Teramachi Sanjou no Holmes: A vaguely interesting concept- anime Antiques Roadshow with some not-subtle-Sherlock-Holmes-ripoff elements. But man it wore thing very quickly.

Aguu Tensai Ningyou: what started as an interesting art style and story/world very quickly become not that. Some of the visuals were uncomfortable to watch but not in a good way. What could have been an interesting psychological thriller became a generic action battle thing. Yawn.

Angolmois – Genkou Kassenk: An odd art/animation style and a weird mismatch of ‘realism’ and ‘clearly not realism’ made this interesting concept for a show (Japan’s historical fighting off the Mongol invasion) a wasted opportunity. At least it wasn’t set in the Sengoku period like every other historical anime.

Hataraku Saibou: it’s a kids show that is kind of meant to be educational (maybe) but loses a lot of it’s accuracy for “story” convenience. Which is fine. But the eccentric yet flat and non-developing characters ran it’s course in a few episodes. Also trying to pass off cancer as a misunderstood emo is fucked up Japan. Cancer is a horrific disease and does not deserve sympathy.

Satsuriku no Tenshi: yawn

Planet With: Eh I dunno with this one. I watched maybe 6 eps and then just stopped. Story was a bit weird but not in a good way. Animation was flashy but not in a god way.  Go watch Gurren Lagann instead.

Back Street Girls – Gokudolls: Wow. What a mess of a concept and a mess of a show. Watched three episodes and then was saved from having to question myself about possibly enjoying it because the sub group dropped it on account if it being a crime against humanity.

Banana Fish: Was fine. I guess. Meh. Pretty child sex victim takes on the Mafia coz they have a drug that fucked up his brother in The War. And there’s a cute Japanese boy there at the same time for reasons for romantic plot.

High Score Girl: Meh. Yawn. Whatever. Terrible art style.

Tenrou Sirius the Jaeger: The Vampire Bandwagon collapsed like a decade ago. Move on.

Iya na Kao Sare Nagara Opantsu Misete Moraitai: I deny watching this. you can’t prove anything.

Anything else this season was so shit it didn’t even make it to three episodes and thus is not worth rating/talking about. And given fucking Goku Dolls DID make it, that should tell you how bad they were.

Bonus!

Marchen Madchen: realised I’d watched 8 episodes and the series only went 10 so thought I’d finish it. Only to find it didn’t finish. And in fact had some of the worst animation I;d ever seen. After some brief digging, I found this amazing dissection of the fucked production that was this series. And boy is it fucked.

Masamune-kun no Revenge: This had been sitting partially watched on my computer for ages. but I finally acknowledged that FanSubs are dead, DDY are never going to finish this and I might as well watch official subs to finish it. It was a solid 7/10 show with a bunch of dumb twists to pad out the back end to prevent any actual resolution occurring.

Saredo Tsumibito wa Ryuu to Odoru: A left over form last season that i thought was ok based on the first 3 eps but didn’t get around to watching. After watching two more eps and I firmly disagree with myself from three month ago. Anime about politics are great when done well. And shit when done like this.

Aru Zombie Shoujo no Sainan: I don’t know what the fuck this was or why it happened. There was apparently a 45 second promo in 2012 and then nothing until this appeared in July 2018. And it was weirdly promoted by a lot of family friendly anime distributors despite it content. A b grade horror movie given anime form- unnecessary nudity, terrible action, lots of blood and gore, “characters”, “story” etc. Months later I still don’t know what to think. Maybe it’s actually a comedy.

Seitokai Yakuindomo Movie: I forgot how much i loved this show. In fact i was worried that given how long it has been since this show started a) my tastes would have changed and b) the jokes wouldn’t really hold up. i was pleasantly wrong. Very funny. Very good. But is less a “movie’ and more a long OVA.

Code Geass: Hangyaku no Lelouch I – Koudou: I’ve been itching to rewatch Code Geass for… well… years and the recap movies seemed a good way to do that without the same time investment as watching 50 episodes of a TV series. I was pleasantly surprised at how good the movie was at condensing the plot down and not feeling rushed… aside for a 10 minute towards the very end where it seemed super erratic and confusing. But it scratched that itch and I’m keen to see the rest of the recap movies and then jump into the new movie/season when it comes out.

GAMMA.CON 2018 (and Wintercon 2018) Review

Being a Canberra boy (well, more-or-less) I have a bit of a soft spot for our local conventions. Given they don’t cost any money for me to go to, are within 20 minutes driving distance of my house (with ample parking) and have by far the largest number of my friends/acquaintances in attendance; it’s a pretty low bar for me to be impressed.

Well, it’s still a high bar as I’m a cynical jackass who doesn’t have positive feelings but attending an interstate event is much more of a hassle and thus primes me to expect more (and thus be disappointed more).

So in the last month I had the pleasure of attending both GAMMA.CON 2018 and Wintercon 2018. Two very different events here in the nation’s capital.

Lets get Wintercon out of the way first- it’s a garbage event that should not be called a “convention”. At best it’s a glorified games day. Tabletop gaming is fun and the full Cancon event run by the Canberra Games Society is somewhat bearable but fuck me is Wintercon garbage. No panels, no events, half a dozen traders (literallly). Nothing that wasn’t tabletop based (not even any role playing stuff like D&D I could see) and not a wide variety of table top stuff. I get that this is a fundraising venture for Cancon but falsely labelling this as a convention is an insult. I was there for about 2 minutes- walked in the door, realised there was nothing to do, realised I couldn’t even buy any miniatures/figures to use in D&D, looked at some misc dice and then left.

GAMMA.CON 2018 however, was a pretty good event. Which given some of the behind the scenes organisational stuff that was going on was a surprise.

A TL;DR:

GAMMA.CON 2018- 7/10 (Wintercon- 0/10)

The move from AIS to EPIC was done perhaps a year too early but GAMMA.CON made pretty good use of the space. In particular the “gaming hall” was great. The “Stage and Trader Hall” was fine but it somehow managed to feel way too crowded up one end and way too empty at the other. The positioning of the panel rooms as literally the first thing when you walked in was great given how hard to make people go to panels- for some reason people struggle to find the rooms and they are typically mostly empty.

i mean, that definietely has nothing to do with the panel content and just the venue yeah? And that’s why you have hepas of signage and great maps so attendees know where everything is right?

Lol get fucked.

I mean, the idea of styling your map on the old school Super Mario and Legend of Zelda maps/layouts was great. However it completely lacks any functionality- it’s hard to read, does not give an accurate gauge of how much space different areas give to each other or how the three different buildings the convention is in relate to each other… or the carpark. I’d say 80% of the map is effectively wasted space. Plus the numbers/labels and the captions/names are too small and in a bad colour and font for reading. Also if you look at the comments you will see a map of the Arist and Trader area… which is simply wrong (/lying?) because the layout of the green artist tables needs to be rotated 90 degrees to match how they were actually set up.

As an aside, names like “Gaming hall” are ones I’ve just invented on account of the garbage venue maps provided in the booklet being completely useless and factually wrong in multiple points. Unless you were actually there it’s nigh impossible for me to describe the set up based on these “maps”.

Was hoping that these maps were just decorative and actual ones would be provided in the program booklet and at the venue. No such luck. Even the volunteers who I asked for directions were pretty unimpressed with the maps and the only way you could find where anything was was to literally walk the whole venue to see yourself… which was hard when you didn’t know how far the venue extended.

Speaking of the program booklet; equally as bad as the maps. Rather than having a map in the double page spread in the middle of the book, it was one of the (also poorly designed) posters. The map sections were split across several pages on either side of the poster. As was the schedule.. which looked like a super basic excel table that was full of typos and errors. The only way to know what was actually on in a panel room or the screenings was to walk in and find out. Very hard to schedule. Also even the way the different schedules were displayed next to each other made no sense. (I’ll try to dig up a photo of the booklet to show what I mean.  But after weeks of chasing down a copy everyone I know threw away their copies)

That being said, the panel and screening schedule were pretty uninteresting. Too much seemed to hinge on uninteresting guests doing uninteresting topics. I only bothered going to three panels:

1) Turtle-Boy Podcast Live. This was surprisingly great. Have no clue what this podcast was about and I only went as there was nothing else on that I wanted to do. Was like 4 people in the audience and it became a really fun interactive thing of us building a hypothetical expanded cinematic universe featuring the Ninja Turtles to see what sort of problems could arise and how they could be prevented or solved.

2) The Movie Club: Hammer Time. A really informative and interesting discussion about the classic Hammer Horror stuff of the 1950s-1970s. I’m not a fan of horror and knew nothing about this topic but I found it a really good panel. (Again, only went due to nothing else of interest being on)

3) Girls Und Panzer Der Panel. With a tagline of ‘why is Girls Und Panzer Der so good’, I falsely assumed that was tongue in cheek and going to talk about why it was a bad anime (in terms of both concept and production/delivery). But no. A disappointing panel.

Speaking of disappointing- didn’t bother walking into the Screenings Room. Aside from all the non-screening content in there, nothing save ‘Land of the Giants’ seemed remotely interesting. All generic stuff or stuff I’d seen recently. Gone are the days when underappreciated gems would pop up in a screening room.

The panels/screenings were also super poorly set up. The two panel streams were set up to run in the same room separated by a nice black, thin and semi-transparent curtain. So noise pollution was very bad between them. Meanwhile the screening room (which had as many panels/workshops as screenings) was separated by the art room by an equally flimsy curtain. Fortunately the art room didn’t have much noise pollution… it was just really fucking dark and so hard to do any art stuff as the lights were off for the screenings. It seemed to be something that was not well thought out… or perhaps the best solution to a bad venue situation?

Oh and both panel rooms (well, half rooms) had fancy names. So you’d assume there’d be super prominent signage telling you which one is which right? Nah. Signage is for losers

The stuff in the “gaming hall” was pretty good- an eSports stage and a tournament stage down one end (with speakers angled to direct noise pollution into just that end), free play consoles of a whole bunch of old consoles (only criticism is it seemed very similar to previous years), the Restrospekt Videogame Museum (which looked great but I was soft-banned from it on account of my talent of accidentally breaking gaming consoles), freeplay pinball machines (possibly the single best highlight of the whole convention for the Terminator 2 pinball machine), some freeplay arcade machines (much better ones than previous years although still no Time Crisis 2), some indie devs (which didn’t look as interesting as previous years- a few repeats and the number of devs/games seemed down), a few traders (which seemed odd- will detail later on), some tabletop gaming (much smaller than previous years) and… wrestling…

Aside from the wrestling, the rest of the stuff was fine to great. But that wrestling… I mean… I know that we all know wrestling is fake but at least some effort to pretend it’s real would be great. Plus the sound was fucking- it was so much louder than it needed to be inside an enclosed space… and the MC microphone was at a different level to the music so it wasn’t even a consistent level of too loud. Plus the wrestling was happening for like… 15% of the convention? So otherwise the corner was a big chunk of dead space. With a whole bunch of chairs lined up next to it in rows that faced a blank wall rather than the stage… for some reason…

Also near the end of day 1 of the convention I the upstairs part of the event was connected to the “gaming hall”. You know, because the maps really didn’t make it clear. And the only staircase was near the secondary exit to the venue. It has some D&D sessions happening (cool) and then a ‘Cosplay HQ’ for cosplayers to hang out and do stuff (yawn). Nothing more to really add on either of those.

The other main hall- the ‘trader/stage hall’ was a bit more problematic. For one thing, there were about 110-120 ‘artists’ selling stuff. (I put ‘artists’ in quotation marks simply because of the sheer variety of things being sold here that aren’t technically “art” so I’m not sure if the term is appropriate). Given how disappointed I was with the variety of art at SMASH 2018, it’s probably no surprise that GAMMA 2018’s Artist Alley was pretty disappointing in terms of both variety and quality.

But quantity is the thing I want to touch on here as it’s the only thing that the event really has any input on. GAMMA.CON 2017 had ~5000 attendees and maybe 50-60 artists. This year’s GAMMA had ~6200 attendees. So you can see an issue here. Approximately double the number of ‘artists’ but nowhere near that amount of extra attendees.

Of note is that the Exhibitor numbers were down compared to last year. in 2017 there were probably 35-40. This year there was probably 20-25 this year. And a lot of the ones this year were new… which means a LOT of the ones last year didn’t come back.

In the very poor/slim amount of pre-event promotion that was done, one of the key lines was how much GAMMA had grown this year; being three times the size it was at AIS. However being frank the event hadn’t filled out AIS (hence my comment earlier that the move to EPIC was probably a year early). Sure the floor space was all being used, but there was so much more room to fit in attendees.

I suspect the blow out in artists numbers had to do with all this extra space needing to be filled. Because the huge increase in people selling things was not matched by a huge increase in people to buy things… so on average everyone will have done less trade than last year. And given how many apparently didn’t come back based on last year… that could be a concern.

If you’ve not done event organising, as an attendee this is bad for you in several ways. Firstly, if the traders don’t do well then they don’t come back and there’s less stuff for you to buy. Secondly, traders don’t buy space from at the convention which goes a notable way to paying the costs of the convention which puts up the cost of a ticket to attend. And lastly they are less likely to sponsor the convention or parts thereof; meaning either/both less money for the convention (again, higher ticket cost) and less cool prizes for competitions. This is of course simplifying a lot of various factors but it gets across the gist of the key parts.

Also- the Exhibitors that were there were pretty disappointing. Literally five different comic shops, plus a book shop, a fudge guy, a few generic pop culture merch sellers. Only two interesting ones were the ‘crazy cat lady’ trader where everything was themed around cats and the lewd ‘Senpai.jp’ shop that sold.. well… very lewd things. I was honestly stunned how many people were walking around wearing hoodies depicting an anime girls with rose coloured cheeks and semen all over her proclaiming ‘living lewd’. I would love to see how many of those hoodies ever see the light of day again.

Speaking of lewds, for some fucking reason the official event merch included softcore body pillows of the mascots. Aside from the fact the mascots are teenagers (and so it’s fucked), why would a ‘family friendly’ event put those sort of shit out.

Don’t get me wrong- I’m not a prude. There was the adult GAMMA@Night where selling that sort of thing would be fine (great even)… assuming you aged up the characters to be adults. But selling it from your official merch booth which shirts and pins and shit while kids are running around? Seems like a really poor decision from a PR perspective. Especially when you’re also selling branded shot glasses which were only allowed to be sold at the @Night event…

The Main Stage was pretty disappointing too this year. A lot of music stuff which was either bad (Meri Amber) or background jazz (The Consouls), boring guest junk or cosplay. There was a comedy show but I missed it. i assume it was fine.

i should probably touch on the Guests at this point. Honestly, I don’t know why GAMMA.CON bothered with half of them. I get bringing Spike Spencer as he is… a big shot VA from the USA… I guess. Not that you would know it from like 80% of his activities over the weekend- he seemed to be more like a snake oil salesman trying to sell me (I think) a book on dating advice, something to do with cooking (a website?) and some financial management “strategy”. It seemed really suss. But when you’re main credit is Shinji from Evangelion which is literally 20 years old I guess you need to diversify your talent(s) and income stream(s).

But the rest of the guests were Cosplay Guests. And the difference between what 1-2 Cosplay Guests bring and 4-5 cosplay guests bring is… well.. a waste of money in guest fees. A.K. Wirru is a fucking great bloke but given he was a guest last year is bringing him back straight away really a ‘headline act’. Hayley Elise did a cool thing at GAMMA@Night but who the fuck were the rest of them and how many tickets would they honestly have sold to the convention? (None) And did they bring interesting content (Not that wasn’t being brought by another Cosplay Guest already)

Should add that Ally Mclean no longer does Cosplay and does kind of do other stuff but I dunno whether it really qualifies as headline content. there were perhaps more prestigious/interesting people doing panels who didn’t get guest headline status.

At least GAMMA didn’t get Good Game or some iteration for like, the fifth year in a row. (2014- Junglist, 2015- Goose, 2016- Bajo/Hex, 2017- GGSP Team… kind of lazy guest organisation on behalf of the event repeatedly going to the same place for content).

Oh and the ‘Comic Book Guests’ and the ‘Tabletop Guests’ aren’t really what ‘guests’ mean in the convention scene. They are definitely great and bring awesome content (although a lot of repeats from GAMMA.CON 2017).

I do somewhat sympathise with the organisers. In the era of the big US Comic Cons being chock full of Marvel actors and Star Wars actors and… whatever other pop-culture thing has movies/TV shows happening; many do expect conventions to have “Guests”. But the budgets of these smaller volunteer organisations just can’t compete with the SupaNovas and the OZCC. And there isn’t an easy solution to balance this popular perception/desire with the stark reality of budgets.

The GAMMA@Night event was… unique. Fine. There was an Adults 18+ section and an all ages Neko Nation thing.

Dealing with the latter first, the Neko Nation thing was garbage. Lots of flashing lights and electronic remixes of j-pop and k-pop… with about 0-6 people concurrently dancing in a room with capacity for like 200 for the 4 hour period. It became a recurring gag to walk past the dance party and see how there was no-one there.

The fact you walked past it was a key issue- for some reason @Night was spread across two buildings (excluding Neko Nation) when it really had enough stuff for one building. All of the content was great- the adult video games, the life drawing (yay naked ladies), the pole dancing, the bar.

But there wasn’t enough content or people to fill out two huge halls.

For some reason, the Exhibitor/Artist areas were left open for @Night. So some people could keep selling things… or they could go home and just leave their merchandise unsupervised and at risk of being stolen.

Given only a handful of Traders actually stayed open; a fairly easy solution to to this problem would have been to move the traders in the gaming hall into the main Exhibitor section and then put those who wanted to stay open for @Night into the “Games Hall”. Then just having the Games Hall open for @Night. Move the main stage events to be on the Wrestling Ring/Stage and everything would fit and be better.

Back on the content- there were two things worth highlighting. One good, one bad. The good one was the “Cospole Dancing”. I mean, it was pole dancing with only a handful of cosplay realted things but they were good. The second last pole dance was a comedy one featuring Deadpool and a Unicorn. And then the last dance was Hayley Elise cosplaying Yoko dancing to the Gurren Lagann OP. Very nice.

The bad was a lets play/play through of some of visual novel soft-core porn game. On one hand the game was pretty boring (compared to Hatoful Boyfriend last year). Secondly the people on stage doing the voices were.. well.. less “doing the voices” and more “screeching”. Definitely a misstep for @Night.

So yeah. On balance, GAMMA.CON 2018 was pretty fine in general but the more I think of the details the more the small issues seem to pop up. All up I’d say it was probably a 7/10… which is what I would probably give it every other year I have been. As an attendee nothing is particularly problematic and as long as you don’t expect you’ll meet Stan Lee it’s a fun way to spend the weekend with friends. And if you get bored after a couple hours you can be back home/in bed/at a pub within 20 minutes.